A doctors' union has gone to court to challenge plans to establish a Sh15 billion private unit within Kenyatta National Hospital, the country’s largest referral facility.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentist Union filed the case under a certificate of urgency, seeking to stop the plans to construct the seven-storey building of 3000 beds.
The project will be funded through public-private partnership arrangement and it is the union’s argument that the 30-year period the winning bidder will manage the hospital is longer than usual and does not benefit the public.
The planned private hospital will occupy about 3.6 hectares of KNH and cash collected will be used to fund the services of the parent institution, according to its chairman Nicholas Gumbo.
The union further said that being the key stakeholders in the medical field, the management of the State corporation has not consulted them or the public since public participation is a national value.
Further, the union said in the court papers that the establishment of the hospital will lead to discrimination in the provision of healthcare at KNH because the private hospital will be more equipped and better staffed for profit to the detriment of the referral facility.
In an affidavit, the secretary general of the union Ouma Oluga said priority will thereafter be given to the private hospital, a move that will be oppressive to the poor and the vulnerable.
In the bids announced last month, the management of KNH said the winner will design, build, equip, operate, maintain and transfer it after a certain period. The construction is expected to start in 2020 and take three years.
The union wants the court to intervene and stop the project, arguing that it is detrimental to their socioeconomic well-being.
“That our concerns are founded on the fact that KNH being a public institution, established under the State Corporation Act that is purposely mandated to provide critical services to the general public, is obligated to comply with express canons of the law, particularly constitutional instructions,” Dr Oluga said in an affidavit.