Nairobi News


Negligence to blame as 80 newborn babies die weekly in KNH wards

Approximately 80 babies die every week at the New Born Unit (NBU) of Kenyatta National Hospital.

This is according to an audit report published in the International Journal of Paediatrics.

The audit revealed that most of the deaths occurred within 48 hours of admission to the NBU.

The report by Dr Priti Jagdishbhai Tank, Dr Anjumanara Omar and Prof Rachel Musoke investigated the use of antibiotics in 320 newborns admitted at the unit over a two-month period.

Eighty of the newborns, the report shows, died within seven days of admission.

The doctors blamed failure by health workers to follow the national treatment guidelines for newborns and lack of facilities.

According to the report, there was a poor commitment to newborn treatment guidelines published by the Ministry of Health in 2016.

The guidelines required complete documentation for every admitted newborn. This was not done for any of the 320 babies aged 0-28 days.


“It was presumed that some clinical features like convulsions, lethargy, and refusal to breastfeed were only documented if they were present,” stated the report.

The report went on to state that laboratory test was rarely done to find out the cause of the ailing of the babies even in circumstance where it was requested.

Substances used in the analysis at the lab are sometimes out of stock.

They also observed an overdose of gentamicin for the newborns weighing <2kgs and aged <7 days.About one in 10 of benzyl penicillin prescriptions was an overdose (11.6%) in contrast to almost one in five (18.5%) for gentamicin.

There was also prolonged use of antibiotics for the newborns even after they have shown improvement .

“The continuation of antibiotics was more inappropriately done than initiation of antibiotics. Earlier discontinuation of antibiotics was an issue, maybe because of inability to confirm infection,”said the report