How doctors' swift action saved lives after deadly Maai Mahiu floods despite strike

President William Ruto and Nakuru leaders visit the site of the Maai Mahiu flood tragedy.

Photo credit: PCS

What you need to know:

  • Some of the patients who spoke to the Nation confirmed being attended to by the doctors.
  • This is even as the doctors' union remains adamant about continuing with their strike, which has lasted at least 49 days.

Twenty-one patients are recuperating after surviving the flash flood tragedy that swept through four villages in Maai Mahiu in Nakuru County, killing 48 people.

Among the survivors are 10 men, nine women, and two children, who owe their narrow escape to the swift action of responders and the medics from Naivasha Sub-County Hospital who arrived on time and attended to them.

Two doctors, who refrained from joining the ongoing nationwide doctors' strike, played a significant role in saving the lives of tens of victims of the flood tragedy.

Naivasha sub-County Hospital's Medical Superintendent, Benard Warui, stated that the two family physicians responded to the call of duty to attend to the 41 victims who were rushed to the hospital from the scene of the tragedy on Monday night.

Dr Warui said the two doctors worked together with the clinical officers and nurses at the hospital to attend to the patients where 15 were treated and discharged. Twenty-three were admitted, including 10 men, nine women, and four children, with one admitted to the intensive care unit in critical condition.

Unfortunately, one patient succumbed on Monday night after suffering head injuries while in ICU.

“The hospital had two physicians who reported for duty to attend to the patients, who started arriving at 5am. They worked alongside the clinical officers and nurses who were at the hospital to attend to the patients,” said Dr Warui.

The physicians referred two other patients to Nakuru Level Five Hospital and the Kijabe Hospital.

The death of the patient brings the death toll to 48 from 46 after one more body was retrieved from the scene on Tuesday.

 Old Kijabe dam

People at the scene in Mai Mahiu where the Old Kijabe dam burst on April 29, 2024.

Photo credit: File| Nation Media Group

The hospital boss noted that the 23 patients admitted to the wards were stabilized and are currently recuperating.

Some of the patients who spoke to theNation confirmed being attended to by the doctors.

Mr Siman Mwangi recounted being caught unawares by the flood, which swept him, his family members, and their house in Sagre village nearly a kilometer away.

“I never saw my wife, children, or other relatives. I was hitting rocks, tree branches, and edges of the iron sheet roofs that had been swept away. Luckily, I held on to a wire mesh fence from where I started calling for help,” said Mr Mwangi.

He was rescued by other villagers before an ambulance from the Naivasha Sub-county hospital arrived and rushed him to the hospital, where he received treatment.

While at the hospital, he learned that his family members had also been rescued and were recuperating well, including his expectant wife.

“I thank God for saving my life and that of my family members. I know many people lost their lives in the tragedy and cannot believe that all my family members came out alive,” said Mr. Mwangi.

John Kinuthia said he was taken in immediately after being saved from the waters and given treatment.

The waters stormed into the house while he was heading to the door to find out where the roaring sound was coming from.

“Before I could open the door, the waters had already swept into the house, and a boulder knocked me on the chest against the wall. My children, who were still sleeping, were swept out of the house together with my wife,” said Mr Kinuthia.

He was fortunate as his trousers got stuck on something, giving him a chance to scream for help. Villagers came to his rescue and bundled him onto the awaiting ambulance, rushing him to the Naivasha Sub-county Hospital, where he received urgent treatment.

His mother, brother, and sister, who lived in the same compound, were also rescued and rushed to the hospital.

“I have received information that they are doing well, and I am glad about it. We have lost so much, but I am grateful for another chance in life,” said Mr Kinuthia.

The Medical Superintendent noted that the hospital has been well prepared to handle casualties of such tragedies, which he said was necessitated by the numerous road traffic accidents witnessed within its jurisdiction.

“Naivasha Sub-county Hospital receives quite a high number of patients, especially from accidents, and it is always well prepared for such scenarios. This is not the first incident where we have received more than 40 casualties, as there are times we receive over 100 patients, especially from accidents,” said Dr Warui.

This is even as the doctors' union remains adamant about continuing with their strike, which has lasted at least 49 days.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union Nakuru Branch Chairman, Dr Steve Omondi, maintained that the doctors in the region are part of the strike.

He noted that medics may decide to assist in cases where there are emergencies and then resume their strike.

“We shall not relent in our demands for better working conditions and remunerations from the government.

"However, since our service is to humanity, we shall not fail to offer short-term assistance to emergency cases when needed but will resume the strike afterward,” said Dr Omondi.

Nakuru County Governor, Susan Kihika, announced on Monday that they plan to recall the doctors who were on strike to assist in treating the patients.

Community Health Promoters have been deployed to assist in some areas.