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Children deserted because of health problems

FITNESS
By | April 28th 2010

By Michael Oriedo

Reports from Nairobi Children’s Home (NCH) indicate that a considerable number of children housed at the facility have health problems.

There are those who are HIV positive while others have heart and mental illnesses. Five-year-old Whitney Akinyi is one such case.

Whitney was found abandoned in Muthaiga, Nairobi and taken to Muthaiga Police Station. The Children’s Court thereafter committed her at NCH. Upon admission, nurses at the clinic discovered that she had persistent chest pains. "She was taken to Mbagathi Hospital which referred her to Kenyatta National Hospital where she was diagnosed with a heart problem," says Njoki.

Abandoned in the streets

According to a medical report from the hospital, she requires a heart surgery that would cost Sh400,000. She is yet to undergo the operation because of lack of funds.

Agnes case is no different. Police attached to Ruaraka Police Station found her stranded on August 18, last year at about 9pm.

"She has an abnormal growth on her head, a condition known as hydrocephalus," says Njoki. This condition arises when spinal fluids accumulate in the head. Like Whitney, she requires surgery to correct the anomaly.

Ndumbi Muthoka has a condition known as rectal prolapse. Part of his rectum protrudes outside his body. This is usually caused by severe diarrhoea, malnutrition, long-term constipation, stress during childbirth or sodomy.

The boy was committed to the children’s home after police found him abandoned at Machakos Country Bus. He was then two years old.

For six-year-old Dominic, a Good Samaritan found him stranded in Huruma, Nairobi. He took him to Mathaiga Police Station.

"The child is deaf and dumb and he is mentally ill. We do not have any details that can make us trace his parents or his home," says Njoki.

Legal provisions

Authorities at the home suspect that these children’s parents abandoned them because of their health problems. "The conditions they have require constant treatment that perhaps they were unable to provide," Njoki says.

The Children’s Act of 2001 prohibits mistreatment and desertion of children. Any one found guilty of the offence is liable to jail term not exceeding five years.

Section 127 (1) states: "Any person who having parental responsibility, custody or care of a child and wilfully assaults, ill treats, abandons or exposes in any manner likely to cause him unnecessary suffering or injury commits an offence."

Such a person is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding Sh200,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both. This law however seems to be inadequate to curb several injustices children endure.

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