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Boni Khalwale, Media Council defend media in Mukumu Girls health crisis

The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has defended the media amid fresh scrutiny over how it covered the recent pandemic at Sacred Hearts Mukumu Girls High School in Kakamega.

The institution was on April 3, 2022, indefinitely closed following the death of two students while dozens of others remain hospitalized following a mysterious health crisis.

But school Principal Fridah Ndolo, in a statement, accused the media of ‘creating a toxic environment’ leading to the closure of the schools.

“This is to notify you that following consultation of the Ministry of Education directors and TSC directors, it has been decided that students break off to heal of the toxic environment already create by media,” read part of the statement signed by Ms Ndolo.

MCK Chief Executive Peter Omwoyo has, however, defended the media.

He said: “Postmortem shows children died of contaminated food and water. The school blames the media. Wa!”

His reaction was echoed by Khalwale who tweeted: “In her letter to parents following the closure of our iconic Mukumu Girls High School, the principal, unblinking, blames what she calls toxic media for the closure of the school! If impunity had a face…”


Also read: Mukumu Girls administration blames the media over closure after student deaths

The school had earlier reported that 246 students were admitted to the hospital in one week, with the number doubling from the initial 124.

The Western region’s education director Mr Jared Obiero visited the school and said the Ministry of Health and medical workers from the county government were investigating the cause of the disease outbreak.

Further, food samples were collected and sent to the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) lab for analysis. Initial findings at the hospital indicated that the learners may have suffered food or water poisoning.

The students who were hospitalized were vomiting, had diarrhoea, and were feeling dizzy. They also complained of feeling fatigued and without breath.

Following the illness, the students were rushed to Kakamega County General Teaching and Referral Hospital and St Elizabeth Mukumu Hospital.

The school board of management chairman Dr Josphat Kaswira confirmed the death of the first student from Bungoma County, and the second student died at home in Navakholo on Sunday after falling sick.

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