Muteithania Nursing and Maternity clinic in Kawangware has been closed after the death of an expectant mother resulted in an inspection by the Department of Public Inspection of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU).
Many of the details surrounding the death of Maureen Achieng are still unclear. We know she arrived at the Muteithania Nursing and Maternity Clinic, which is classified as a private hospital and/or nursing home by sources online, very late at night. She arrived there without the company of any family members and, according to a nurse on duty at the time, Maureen Achieng was bleeding.
The nurse ushered Maureen into the facility, presuming that Maureen was there to deliver the baby. According to The Nation’s reporting on the story, the nurse considered that the bleeding was a normal sign that the child’s delivery was incoming. Bleeding is a common symptom of a pregnant mother’s later-stage pregnancy. It can be a sign that the mother’s cervix is softening and thinning in preparation for labour.
This, however, is where the story becomes worthy of greater investigation, inspiring, as it does, a degree of suspicion. The account from the nurse on duty was given to The Nation journalists not by the nurse herself but by the proprietors of the Muteithania facility. They say, alleging to be speaking with the nurse’s words, that the deceased’s labour was so obviously onset that there was no time to make any of the usual health facility records.
They then say that the deceased’s child was delivered at around 4 a.m. and that, despite the fact that the “baby made some noise, which to us as professional health workers is an indication that the baby is alive”, the child died almost immediately. Notice, if you choose to, that admitting to observing signs of “an indication that the baby is alive” is not at all the same as stating, matter-of-factly and without obfuscation, that the baby was alive.
Soon after the delivery of her child, Maureen Achieng was observed as having turned “pale white” by the hospital proprietor, known only to journalists as ‘Mercy’. Mercy says she arrived at the hospital at around the time of the child’s delivery. She makes no mention of having personally seen the child alive.
On seeing the obvious ill-health of Maureen Achieng, Mercy first tried to call an ambulance then chose to take Maureen to Kenyatta National Hospital. Maureen, however, collapsed on arrival in KNH’s casualty area and died after failed attempts at resuscitation. The corpse of her deceased child was, meanwhile, still sitting at the Muteithania Nursing and Maternity Clinic.
The Nation calls it a ‘suspected botched abortion’
According to the statement given by this ‘Mercy’, Maureen Achieng came to the Muteithania Nursing and Maternity clinic in order to give birth. There is no mention of the deceased’s coming there in search of an abortion.
Despite this, the suspicion that this is an abortion gone wrong seems to be pervasive; The Nation, obviously, chose to put it in their headline. Nairobi County officials have, however, been less blatant as they discuss the investigation surrounding the Mutheithania clinic.
Nairobi County’s Assembly Health Committee Chairperson, Maurice Ochieng, made comments suggesting that, in fact, Maureen’s death was the result of standards unmet at the Mutheithania facility.
Though their investigation is not yet finished, Ochieng stated that the preliminary investigation made clear “some negligence being done by non-professionals.” He did, however, make a warning that may be taken as a hint that the Mutheithania facility was offering services it was not licensed for.
Ochieng stated his intent that this investigation be a warning. “We are sending a strong message to Nairobians”, he said, “that if we find you operating a clinic, operating any medical facility without approvals, without license, we will catch up with you”.
So, was the death of Maureen Achieng the result of a botched abortion conducted at a maternity health clinic that had no legal right to offer abortions? Further investigation is required before we can answer that question. Perhaps the Nairobi County investigation will give us a suitable answer in time.
What we can say for certain right now is that this worryingly obvious trend of uncovering frauds in very professional positions, offering services they haven’t got the training nor licensing for, is very damaging to the average Kenyan’s faith in positions of authority.
In the case of Maureen Achieng’s unfortunate demise there are perhaps further questions about how society at large treats and considers those that seek out abortions. It may just be the case that Maureen would be alive right now if she had easier access to the service she sought. However, on the topic of how much we can trust the professionals who offer us their services, this story is another indication that, here in Kenya, you must always do your due diligence before you seek out a ‘professional’ for his or her help.
‘A nation of quacks’: how many of our ‘professionals’ have the qualifications and licenses they say they have?
‘A nation of quacks’, was the headline to another The Nation headline that covered the story of David Onyango Nyawade, a doctor who KMPDU found as having completely faked his qualifications.
David Onyango Nyawade was found out just days after the now-infamous story of fake lawyer, Brian Mwenda, broke.
In November 2022, another story of a doctor with falsified qualifications broke; that fake doctor was using his office and position to also rape many of his clients.
Let us also not forget that Nairobi Governor, Johnson Sakaja, despite the story’s no longer being so prevalent in the public eye, never managed to offer a satisfying explanation to claims his degree from Team University of Uganda was faked.
Perhaps we are, as The Nation says, a nation of quacks.