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Cholera patient dies after Kisumu hospital turns him away


A private hospital accused of turning away a cholera patient who later died risks being closed down.

On Monday, the newly opened hospital in Kisumu County allegedly refused to attend to the patient because he did not have medical insurance.

Relatives said they took the man to the hospital because there are no services in government hospitals due to the ongoing nurses’ strike.

The patient was said to have had diarrhoea and was vomiting.

The health authorities have said a cholera outbreak has killed three people, including two inmates at Kodiaga Prison. Thirty others are in hospital.

The county chief officer of health, Ojwang Lusi, Wednesday said the reports were being investigated and that the hospital would be shut down if it is found that doctors refused to attend to a patient.

“Ethics require that a health practitioner first save life before demanding money. We are on the matter,” Lusi said.

He said the victim’s family said the man had diarrhoea and was vomiting. They bought drugs from a local chemist but he did not get better.

His family took him to the private hospital when his condition worsened and they were allegedly turned away.

Relatives said the hospital’s management said the patient could not be attended to as it had no way of ascertaining his ability to pay his bills since he had no medical cover.

The relatives took the man to Port Florence Hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead.

The hospital CEO, Harizon Ouko, said it was suspected that the man had cholera. County public health officers were informed and took samples from the victim for testing.

“We could not carry out any tests because the patient was dead when he was brought here. That is why we called in the county government officials,” Dr Ouko said.

The health department said four cholera treatment centres had been set up in the areas where the outbreak has been reported.

Health executive Elizabeth Ogaja said the centres have been set up at Kodiaga Prison, Lela Rainbow Dispensary, Port Florence Hospital, and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital.

Ogaja said the situation could get worse unless residents take precautionary measures to prevent the disease from spreading.

“As you may be aware, we have a crisis in our hospitals due to the ongoing strike by health workers and so we are asking the community to ensure high standards of hygiene right from the food they eat and the water they drink to who they interact with in their homes and places of work,” she said.

Separately, the national government has announced that it will soon roll out a programme to fight cholera across the country.

Health PS Julius Korir said the programme would involve specially trained community health workers, especially those from the Kenya Medical Training College.

“We have contained the spread after 120 cases were reported. We’ll not relent,” said Korir, who spoke at Shanzu Teachers Training College Wednesday when he opened the 10th edition of the Kenya Medical Training College games.

The Health ministry has listed Kisumu, Nairobi, Garissa and Machakos counties as the high risk areas in cholera outbreaks.

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