Closure of congested KNH to walk-in patients faces delay


Entrance to Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The planned closure of Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) to walk-in patients from July 1 could be pushed back.

The plan is largely dependent on 24 new Level 2 and 3 facilities and two referral hospitals being put up by Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) being ready to decongest the more than 100-year-old referral hospital.

However, the completion and opening of the hospitals, as had been planned, is facing delays that could see the closure of walk-in patients to KNH delayed.

The hospitals were to become operational before the end of June but the delays now leave the plan hanging in the balance with slightly more than two weeks to the anticipated deadline.

NMS Director-General Major General Mohamed Badi said they were engaging with the Ministry of Health to only close the doors of KNH to walk-in patients after all its health centres are operational.

He pointed said they were working to ensure the new centres, as well as two Level 5 hospitals are in place before KNH closes its door to the public.

“We have a target of July 1, 2021, but that is not cast in stone. We are talking with the ministry that should the Level 5 Hospitals not be concluded by July 1, then the date can be pushed back so that mwananchi can enjoy the services of KNH,” said Mr Badi.

KNH is one of the five national facilities that ought to receive only referred patients from across the country but mostly receive walk-in or self-referrals with the bulk being from Nairobi.

A survey conducted last year revealed that 47 per cent of those who go to the hospital come from Nairobi slums.

However, Mr Badi said they were looking into unveiling 12 more hospitals in the next two weeks while the other seven are in various stages of construction.

He added that Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital, which is a Level 4 hospital, is also currently being upgraded to a referral facility, the same as Korogocho-Mathare Hospital which is 90 percent complete.

Other big hospitals in Nairobi include Pumwani Maternity Hospital, Mutuini and Mbagathi Hospital.

On the new level 2 and 3 hospitals, the NMS boss said so far only five have been commissioned and are in operation. They include Uthiru-Muthua Level 3 Hospital, Kiamaiko, Kayole-Soweto, Gatina hospital in Kawangware and Ushirika in Dandora, which are all Level 2 facilities (dispensaries).

“We are also deliberating with the Ministry that until and unless we have all health systems running in Nairobi, it will be unfair for KNH to close its doors to the public,” he said.