Kenyatta University VC Paul Wainaina, Olive Mugenda clash over management of KUTRRH

Kenyatta University VC Paul Wainaina (left) and KUTRRH Board Chair Olive Mugenda before a parliamentary committee on September 20, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The differences between Kenyatta University Vice Chancellor Paul Wainaina and Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH) Board Chairperson Olive Mugenda played out when they appeared before a parliamentary committee on Wednesday.

Prof Wainaina told the National Assembly Public Investments Committee on Governance and Education that the Level Six hospital will be better managed by the university while Prof Mugenda argued that the facility should remain a government parastatal since currently there is no legal framework for an educational institution to run a hospital in the country.

The Vice-Chancellor said the university management in its wisdom envisioned and put up the hospital which other than serving as a national referral centre would also aid medical students in their clinical training and research.

“Everything was going on well with Kenyatta University management running the hospital until a letter came in from the office of the Head of Public Service in 2019 informing the university that the hospital is now a parastatal and asked the administration to handover,” he said.

Prof. Wainaina told the committee that the medical students are forced to wake up at 4am, every day, and travel close to 40km to Kiambu Level Five hospital which is under-resourced and overcrowded and therefore incapable of providing a stimulating environment for medical studies.

The VC argued that the university had developed a business plan to run KUTRRH where it could be under a Chief Executive Officer answerable to the institution and that having the facility reverted back to them will not affect the current management structure.

“We wanted our medical students to be allowed unfettered access to the facility so that they can be able to practice and get the necessary experience in their very own facility that has been taken away from them and they are now being treated like strangers in their very own compound,” said Prof Wainaina.

KUTRRH Board Chairperson Olive Mugenda. [Samson Wire, Standard]

However, Prof Mugenda told the committee that the facility was unutilized for three years before she took over despite being complete and the university was previously represented by three board members in the hospital before it was changed to one after it became a parastatal

The former KU Vice Chancellor, who was in charge when the construction of the facility started, said that they have not denied students access and they were free to conduct their practical lessons.

Prof Mugenda told the committee that she had nothing personal against Prof Wainaina who served as her deputy for five years saying that at the moment there was no legal framework for an educational institution to run a health facility terming it as the reason, she will advocate for the hospital to be run independently from the university.

“I was the Vice Chancellor of Kenyatta University when the building of this hospital was conceptualized and started, I would also like to tell this committee that I have nothing personal against Prof Wainaina who served as my deputy, I would like to see our two institutions relating in a harmonious manner,” she said.

The committee took the KUTRRH Board Chair to task over the qualification of the Hospital CEO saying that he was not a medical doctor but she defended him saying that he had a Master's Degree in Business Administration and Bachelor's degree in Nursing and was sufficiently qualified to run the facility.

Attorney General Justin Muturi told the committee that the Ministries of Education, Health and the National Treasury need to sit together and resolve the differences between the two public institutions.

“The difference between the managements of Kenyatta University and Kenyatta University Teaching, Research and Referral Hospital can be solved if the Ministries of Education, Health and National Treasury sit down together and help sort out the issue with my office ready to offer legal expertise,” said Muturi.

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