Patients at Ngao sub-county hospital in Tana River have been going for months without meals – and for a year with no proper medical treatment and emergency ambulance services.
The facility stopped cooking because there is no food supply, halted ambulance services due to the withdrawal of vehicles, and faced worsening medical aid because the hospital is understaffed.
Food suppliers are demanding at least Sh1.7 million from the county. But the devolved unit, headed by Governor Dhadho Godhana, has been silent, over five months since the problem started persisting in October 2020.
Lack of emergency ambulance services and proper treatment has continued for over a year now, with no hope in sight.
In-patients, some pregnant women, are most hurting. It is either they buy their food or sleep hungry. The cost is unbearable, they say.
Last month, two local churches—AIC Ngao and Seiktif Tharasa—donated food to the hospital. But it depleted within a week.
When there is an emergency referral, patients turn to public transport, an unreliable system.
The hospital has one medical oxygen cylinder—and critically ill patients are scrambling for it. For instance, doctors last month had to choose who between an infant—who was already receiving oxygen supply—and an adult patient—who needed emergency evacuation to Mombasa for specialized treatment—should use the cylinder.
“Doctors chose the adult patient over the infant. A few hours later, the baby died,” local Abe Semi said.
Semi said their effort to seek an audience from relevant authorities and have issues resolved were futile.
“The complaints were raised, and officials said they will address them. But there has been no change,” Semi said, adding that some decisions are politically motivated.
Joseph Komora, a local, said: “This used to be the best hospital when the community was in charge. The county should know that we are still up to the task. We have children who can serve us in this hospital. Let them give it to us.”
Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), a human rights organisation, is pursuing the matter.
[MUHURI Field Officer Ogle Abdi (Second left) with locals at Ngao hospital. Photo/Courtesy).
MUHURI Tana River field officer Ogle Abdi said they are writing to relevant authorities for answers.
“The county should know that our intervention is not limited and suing them is not out of option,” Abdi said.
He said the constitution guarantees the right to proper health, and no one can take it away, including the governor.
Ngao locals now demand that all nurses that got transferred from the hospital returned, steady food supply restored, and ambulance services immediately resumed.