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War Memorial Hospital takeover: Kihika speaks amid land tussle

 Nakuru Governor Susan Kihika when she appeared before the Senate Health Committee at Parliament on May 17, 2024.[Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Nakuru Governor Susan Kihika has for the first time shed light on the prolonged land dispute that resulted in the closure of War Memorial Hospital. 

Appearing before the Senate Health Committee on Friday, May 17, Kihika clarified that the Nakuru county government assumed ownership of the hospital to prevent an illegal acquisition.

"The County took over after discovering a scheme to sell the hospital to a private entity,” Kihika told the Committee. 

She revealed that in 2019, the Nakuru County Assembly considered taking direct ownership of the hospital but ultimately decided to transfer it to the county government. 

The hospital had applied for a lease extension in 2020, which was subsequently withdrawn in 2023 due to fraudulent practices.

Despite court orders calling for its reopening, the hospital has remained closed since January 2024. 

The protracted wrangling between the hospital management and the county government has had dire consequences for patients, its Chief Executive Officer Patricia Musale, also appearing before the Health Committee said. 

According to Musale, at least six patients lost their lives during this period, as they were denied essential items such as food and oxygen. Mothers recovering from cesarean sections and other major surgeries were among those affected.

“Among those whose treatment was disrupted were mothers who had undergone CS section and those from major surgeries. During evictions, goons made them sit on stretchers, yet they were in a critical state,” the CEO said. 

But Governor Kihika has refuted allegations that County Secretary Dr. Samuel Mwaura and his associates disrupted health services at the facility. However, the situation remains contentious.

Senate Health Committee chair Jackson Mandago directed that further verification shall be done in consideration of the evidence presented.

Kihika was on Friday summoned to answer to queries on the state of healthcare in Nakuru County and explain the closure of War Memorial hospital. 

Two cases have since then been filed in court since the facility’s closure. In one case, the hospital’s management and the county government are embroiled in a legal battle over the ownership of the 25 hectare’ piece of land.

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