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Sad tale of Kenyan hospitals which have been turned into small ‘prisons’

Kenyans have come out to narrate how the health industry in Kenya has fallen apart characterized by painful encounters with medical practitioners.

The discussion on social media came following a damning indictment on Kenyatta National Hospital by the Association Press (AP) for how badly it often treats patients who default on payment of their medical bills.

The investigative piece from a report conducted by AP in several countries in the world cited KHN for being notorious of illegally detaining patients long after they should have been discharged, using armed guards, locked doors and even chains.


“At Kenyatta National Hospital and at an astonishing number of other hospitals around the world, if you don’t pay up, you don’t go home. Kenyan hospitals and morgues are holding hundreds of bodies until families can pay their loved ones’ bills,” part of the article reads.

In the story, AP quoted dozens of doctors, nurses, health experts, patients and administrators who narrated cases of imprisonments in hospitals in at least 30 other countries, including Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, China and Thailand, Lithuania, Bulgaria and also in Latin America and the Middle East.

However, on social media, the story has divided opinion with Kenyans coming out to share their personal experiences.


A certain Pius Ketter, in particular, strongly differed with the report terming it as sensational and far-fetched.

“In military fatigues…?! So intriguing. So far-fetched. I’ve lived in Kenya all my life yet I haven’t witnessed hospital security in military fatigues. If you want to be sensational at least be close to reality..! ‘Tourist’ media,” he wrote.

“I think they mean Administration Police or Prison officers, who also guard prisoners admitted in hospitals. This, however, is not to say there are no patients detained. There are, and there is a proposed bill to make it illegal. But they have sensationalised it,” Eliud Kibii commented.


“I went to India for dental surgery (outpatient/took one hour) because the Nairobi doctors wanted to put me under general anesthesia and keep me in hospital for 3 days. (Cost 350K, Cost in India 50K),” wrote Rasna Warah.

“I’m so sickened by the extent of such rights violations, it’s inhumane. My heart bleeds,” said Mable Kayiya while Samuel Karanja wrote, “Its a national shame to have poor people detained in hospitals because they can’t afford to pay bills!. Can ODPP urgently cause investigations on these illegal imprisonment in health facilities?”