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Thousands get free health care in ‘floating hospital’

Saturday October 16 2010

By GITONGA MARETE [email protected] and MIKE KALAMA

Medical staff aboard the Chinese Navy hospital ship Peace Ark have been treating an average of 700 patients a day since last Thursday.

The crew, which leaves the port of Mombasa tomorrow, has been doing an average of six operations, 80 physical examinations, 110 dental check-ups, 35 CT scans, 200 DR examinations, 240 ultra sound cases and 170 heart check-ups per day.

The medical team also visited the Ziwani School for the deaf, Tom Mboya School for Cerebral Palsy, the Mji wa Salama Children’s home and did physical examination on 243 children, 30 of whom were taken to the ship for further treatment.

When he visited the hospital ship last week at the Mbaraki wharf, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka expressed concern over the rising cases of patients abandoned in hospitals and mothers detained in maternity wards over non-payment of bills.

He termed such incidents as “unpardonable” and said most health institutions in the county need urgent attention.

Mr Musyoka said although the new Constitution guarantees proper medical care for all, “the challenge before us is to translate this promise into reality by working extra hard to grow our economy and generate sufficient wealth and surplus that can support the realisation of a better health care for all Kenyans.”


The Peace Ark hospital has 428 medical and support staff. They include neurologists, surgeons, radiologists, dermatologists, biomedical engineers and psychologists.

Other facilities are a rescue helicopter, 32 medical departments including Chinese herbal medicine, 300 hospital beds and a wide range of diagnostic medical equipment.

The doctors arrived last Wednesday and started offering free treatment on Thursday. The vessel will leave on Monday.

Mr Musyoka noted that being the first visit by the Chinese medical vessel to an African country, the gesture was a clear sign of the long friendship between Kenya and the people of China.

“The relationship has been bolstered by knowledge and cultural exchange through programmes such as the Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi and transfer of technology, equipment, modern highways, state-of-the art hospitals, and a host of infrastructural edifices scattered all over Kenya,” he added.

The Head of Peace Ark Mission, Admiral Yu Ping Bao, said the visit was an indication of the cordial relationship between the two countries, adding that the Chinese government would continue supporting Kenya in health care.

Meanwhile, Kenyans can actualise their dream of sailing through the Indian Ocean aboard the first local cruise liner in Mombasa.
The Ocean Mist, a local cruise ship, offers luxurious night cruises to Zanzibar and Pemba islands every weekend.