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Post-mortem on 12 Pumwani babies set for Tuesday

Monday September 24 2018

Sonko Pumwani

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko with acting county Health minister Charles Kerich and other officials during a meeting on the proposed Sonko Pumwani Maternity Hospital and College of Nursing and Midwifery, September 21, 2018. PHOTO | COURTESY 

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Post-mortems on the 12 infant bodies found at the Pumwani Maternity Hospital last week will be conducted on Tuesday.

The autopsies will be done by a government pathologist in the presence of officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNHCR) Vice-Chair George Morara said.

“The post-mortems will let us know whether there was any professional negligence by comparing the results with what the management of the hospital presented,” he said, adding that if the pathologist’s report reveals that there was professional negligence, they will petition authorities to take tough disciplinary measures against those responsible.

The problems at Pumwani hospital hit the headlines last week following an impromptu visit to the facility by Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, which unearthed a host of problems.


On Thursday, Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Secretary-General Seth Panyako called for a medical audit of the facility to establish the real cause of infant deaths, saying the rates of infant and maternal mortality at the facility are alarming.


But the hospital's management put on a brave face, saying no one is to be blamed for the infant deaths.

Nevertheless, Mr Sonko suspended the hospital's management and four county officials who sided with the facility’s narrative.

A preliminary report by the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDB) on Thursday revealed that five of the infants, who were in the newborn unit, died under unclear circumstances.

KMPDB chief executive Daniel Yumbya said the babies died between September 12 and 17, and that three were stillborn while four died in the first 24 hours of life. The reasons for their deaths included prolonged labour and being underweight.


Meanwhile, Governor Sonko announced that he has held talks with Aga Khan University Hospital’s top team for temporary solutions. Consequently, Aga Khan will provide additional doctors, nurses and support staff to Pumwani, at no cost, for two years.

At the same time, Governor Sonko has announced plans for a "new look" 'Sonko Pumwani Maternity Hospital and College of Nursing and Midwifery, which he hails as a "permanent solution to the crisis".

The governor announced this after meeting a consortium that proposed to put up a 450-bed hospital.

He said that the new hospital will offer surgeries alongside immunisation, diagnostic and 24-hour emergency services.

“The new 10-storey Sonko Pumwani Maternity hospital, which will stand adjacent to the old hospital, will [have] a paediatric intensive care unit (ICU), an adult ICU, a high-dependency unit, staff quarters, laundry and all necessary facilities,” Mr Sonko said on Friday.

He added that the hospital will also have a labour ward, delivery suites, four fully functional theatres and a post-natal ward. The newborn unit will have 100 incubators, a neo-natal ICU and HDU as well as 30 breastfeeding rooms.