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Inside the Pumwani maternity ‘baby kiosk’

By Pkemoi Ng'enoh | Published Fri, March 20th 2015 at 10:35, Updated March 20th 2015 at 10:42 GMT +3

NAIROBI, KENYA: Pumwani Maternity Hospital-where President Uhuru Kenyatta was born –is a one stop ‘baby shop’. Babies are born , swapped or sold at the drop of a diaper. Nine months of waiting for a bundle of joy ends up in a sack of sobs.

Take Jacinta Wanjiku. She delivered twins at Pumwani on January 6 this year and clearly heard one of the babies cry. Then came the bad news. Her babies were still born. Jacinta was shown bodies of ‘her lifeless twins’. After protests, her request for a DNA test to establish the truth was granted.

Days later, government pathologist,  Dr Johansen Oduor, revealed that the ‘lifeless bodies’ were not related. None was linked to her. This reopened a can of worms as the bodies shown to Jacinta belonged to another woman who had undergone the same ordeal.

The Nairobian has since established that the booming baby business at the largest maternity hospital in East and Central Africa is delivered with management allegedly in the know of the goings-on.

An officer who has since been transferred to City Hall revealed that some nurses at the hospital are behind the baby ‘deals’.

“I worked for more than five years at the maternity, though in a different department, but I came to learn about business one year before my transfer  last year,” said an officer  who requested not to be named for fear of reprisals.

The officer claims the baby business involves well connected individuals in the city and is usually sealed well before delivery. After birth, the child is immediately taken away when the mother is still weak. Our source explains that.

“Once the target mother is in labour, the nurses keep watch until she delivers before the baby is whisked away and after some minutes the mother is informed that her baby did not survive.”

Baby boys, it is said, are not in demand as baby girls . Baby boys are allegedly sold for Sh10,000, while girls sold for Sh50,000.

It is reportedly easy to rob from mothers at Pumwani because most of them are poor and would not pursue reports about their babies’ deaths. The hospital charges about Sh3000 for normal delivery and Sh6000 for C-section, while the cost of a bed is Sh400. This has made Pumwani the prefered delivery hospital by expectant women from nearby slums.

“I learnt from one of the people involved in the syndicate is a woman from Kiambu, who frequents the hospital about twice a week and drives a white Toyota Prado,” he claimed.

The Nairobian trace Akinyi, a 29-year-old mother of two from the nearby majengo slums, who recalled a woman screaming after she was shown a dead baby boy while she had just given birth to a baby girl.

“When the woman’s husband arrived and asked to view the baby’s body, he was advised that its skin was already peeling and hence it was not necessary. Some of my friends who are single mothers have been offered as much as Sh100,000 by nurses for their babies,” said Akinyi.

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