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Doctors challenge construction of private hospital by KNH

Wednesday November 13 2019

KNH

The Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SAM KIPLAGAT
By SAM KIPLAGAT
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A doctors' union has gone to court to challenge plans to establish a Sh15 billion private hospital within the country’s largest referral.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentist Union filed the case under certificate of urgency, seeking to stop the plans to construct a seven-storey building at the Kenyatta National Hospital.

The project will be funded through public private partnership arrangement and the union argues that the 30-year period the winning bidder will manage the hospital, is inordinately long and does not benefit the public in any way.

NO PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

The planned private hospital will also occupy about 3.6 hectares of KNH grounds and money collected will be used to fund the services of the parent institution according to its chairman Nicholas Gumbo.

The union further said that being the major stakeholders in the medical field, the management of the state corporation has not consulted them or the public yet public participation is a national value.

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Further, the union said in the court papers that the establishment of the hospital will lead to discrimination in the provision of healthcare at KNH because the private hospital will be more equipped and better staffed for profit to the detriment of the Referral hospital.

In an affidavit in support of the petition, the secretary general of the union Dr Ouma Oluga said priority will thereafter be given to the private hospital, a move that will be oppressive to the poor and the most vulnerable members of the society.

In the bids announced last month, the management of KNH said the winning bidder will design, build, equip, operate, maintain and transfer the hospital after a certain period. The construction is expected to start in 2020 and expected to be completed by 2023.

But the doctors’ union said the concession cannot benefit Kenyans because the developer will exclusively operate the facility for 30 years while collecting massive profits, being protected as a state corporation, as they recoup their investment.

Dr Oluga further said there is no goodwill in the project as it is tainted will illegalities and irregularities. He said the union is apprehensive that it is a scheme to privatize public healthcare in the country, for the benefit of a few individuals and not the general public.

He also said before advancing the decision, the management ought to have involved the public, particularly the stakeholders, including the union and its members on the fundamentals and essentials of the whole project.

The union wants the court to intervene and stop the project, arguing that it is detrimental to their socioeconomic well-being.

“That our concerns are founded on the fact that KNH being a public institution, established under the State Corporation Act that is purposely mandated to provide critical services to the general public, is obligated to comply with express canons of the law, particularly constitutional instructions,” he said in an affidavit.