Nurses go on strike over babies saga

Wednesday March 25 2015

Patients leave Nairobi’s Pumwani Maternity Hospital on March 25, 2015 after nurses went on strike. PHOTO | WILLIAM OERI

Patients leave Nairobi’s Pumwani Maternity Hospital on March 25, 2015 after nurses went on strike. PHOTO | WILLIAM OERI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By OTIATO GUGUYU
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By DENNIS ODUNGA
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Operations at Nairobi’s Pumwani Maternity Hospital have been paralysed after 186 nurses went on strike on Wednesday.

The nurses vowed not to go back to work in reaction to allegations that babies were stolen from the hospital.

The maternity hospital is being investigated following the mysterious disappearance of newborn twins.

The Senate is investigating a case in which Mr Dedan Kimathi’s wife, Jacinta Wanjiku Gathua, gave birth to twins at the hospital on January 6, but doctors there told her the babies died 12 hours before they were born.

On Wednesday, pregnant women were turned away from the hospital and newborns at the nursery transferred to Kenyatta National Hospital.

Kenya National Union of Nurses secretary-general Seth Panyako threatened to declare the hospital hostile.

“We have the right to refuse to give services to those who have threatened us. From today, no one will give birth at this hospital and we are only allowing our members to serve at the nursery because we do not want the children to die,” he said.

DEMANDING TRANSFERS

A spot check in the wards showed that patients had been given a notice to leave as women who had already delivered were checked out.

The nurses are demanding to be transferred from the hospital, whose reputation has been dented by baby theft allegations.

The father of a patient who was waiting to be transferred from the hospital with her baby to KNH, said he was aware of the claims.

“My daughter delivered here on Thursday and the funny thing is they moved her baby twice from where they had initially kept her and only when she became hysterical did they bring it back,” he said.

The investigation by the Senate on the missing babies comes weeks after DNA tests showed that there is no genetic relationship between two bodies presented as the twins, neither are they related to Mr Kimathi and his wife.

The test was conducted on the bodies between January 27 and February 4 at the Government Chemist in Nairobi.

Mr Panyako claimed that other investigations showed the bodies were swapped at the City Mortuary.

At the same time, the Senate investigation now faces hurdles after it emerged that some witnesses have been threatened with the sack.

Students on internship at the hospital are also said to have been warned against contradicting the position taken by the hospital over the missing babies.

The Senate Health Committee said it was unfortunate that some Nairobi County officials had opted to intimidate staff at the City Mortuary for portraying the hospital in bad light.

“No one should be threatened because they have a right to appear before this committee,” said Dr Mohammed Kuti, the committee chairman, on Wednesday.