Protests as Nakuru maternity hospital is turned into isolation centre

A ward at the Bondeni Maternity Hospital in Nakuru after it was turned into an isolation ward. PHOTO | CHEBOITE KIGEN | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Ms Margaret Njeri, a maternal health expert, said the move will roll back the gains made in maternal healthcare.
  • She noted that the facility has contributed immensely to the drop in infant and maternal deaths.

When Governor Lee Kinyanjui decided to turn the Bondeni Maternity Hospital into a Covi-19 isolation centre, he was focused on turning the tide on the rising number of infections.

But he probably did not anticipate the uproar that has met the move as residents, health experts and activists raise their voices in protest.

“We are determined to do our best in terms of preparedness. We have 458 beds in 19 health facilities and have identified those that can quickly be converted to isolation centres in case the number of Covid-19 patients who need admission rises," Mr Kinyanjui had said.

The Nation has established that the Bondeni isolation centre will have 80 beds. Mr Kinyanjui has said the plan is to have over 1,000 beds.

People's Power Watch director Jesse Karanja said the biggest losers were the poor: “The hospital has been serving mothers from low income areas. Its closure means they will have to commute all the way to the Nakuru Level Six Hospital for services.”

Ms Margaret Njeri, a maternal health expert, said the move will roll back the gains made in maternal healthcare. She noted that the facility has contributed immensely to the drop in infant and maternal deaths.

The hospital has been serving mothers from informal settlements such as Kivumbini, Lake View, Kwa Rhoda, Kaptembwa, Flamingo, Kaloleni and Bondeni. It was built in 1952 to take care of African women living south of the railway line in Nakuru town.

Now a level four hospital, the facility has been handling more than 600 cases every month. According to statistics from the county’s health department, maternal mortality rates declined by over 30 per cent in the past one year from 374 to about 259 per 100,000 live births.

Neonatal deaths between January and September 2018 stood at 454 while still births due to difficulties during labour, bleeding and hypertension were 1,346.

The statistics link the decline in the deaths to improvements made in health facilities including revamping of maternity hospitals and availability of adequate staff and equipment.

The records also indicate that 96 percent of pregnant women in the county have been attending at least one antenatal clinic while 48 percent attend four antenatal clinics and at least 70 percent of them give birth in hospitals. 

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