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Mailu shocked by congestion at KNH during surprise visit

Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu on Tuesday saw first hand the tribulations of patients at the Kenyatta National Hospital during an impromptu visit.

Dr Mailu, who said his decision was prompted by numerous complaints from the public about the hospital, witnessed the congestion at the casualty section due to crowded wards.

“I have heard of cases of patients not receiving the care they need and in some instances surgery being cancelled,” he said.


The Cabinet Secretary was told that the hospital’s Central Sterile Services Department (CSSD) had only one functioning machine from the six that are available.

The sterilisation unit is used to disinfect medical equipment for reuse in the operating theatre.

The CS said the only functional machine, which sterilises a set of equipment in two hours, was inadequate.

“KNH has resorted to outsourcing the service to neighbouring hospitals, which is not good enough given the time lost,” he said.

Dr Mailu, however, said the waiting list of patients seeking surgery could not be attributed to the collapse of the sterilisation unit.

“The backlog is due to lack of specialists and cost of the required procedures,” he said.

“The breakdown of the machines is also slowing down the surgeons’ work,” he said.

The Cabinet Secretary said KNH needs up to Sh20 million to buy a single sterilisation machine as it needs heavy duty equipment that can cope with demand.


The hospital board would soon meet to find a solution to the problem, which would be effected in six months, he said.

Dr Mailu called on the county government of Nairobi to ensure that its satellite hospitals function efficiently to reduce the congestion at the referral hospital.

“I saw a patient who has stayed at the casualty department for 60 days because no bed is available in the wards,” he said.

Early this year, Dr Mailu announced that the KNH would stop offering outpatient services in two years, if county hospitals improve their services.

The move was meant to decongest the country’s largest hospital and allow it to handle in-patient and referral cases more efficiently.

However, he said that to date, the satellite hospitals were not performing satisfactorily.

“These hospitals close at 5pm when they should be open 24 hours. It is totally unacceptable,” said Dr Mailu.

KNH Chief Executive Officer Lily Koros, while acknowledging that the hospital was not performing as well it should, said: “We try our best within our limited resources.

“At any given time, we try to meet their expectations but at times we are overwhelmed,” the CEO added.