Urgent Action Needed!!

Poor Women illegally detained in Maternity Hospitals in Kenya

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EMERGENCY

No-vox Networks requiers your solidarity with women illegaly detained
in Kenya. Protest with the followings instructions (at the end of the
text).

Sincerly Yours

For No-Vox Networks

Annie and Marie


Comrades,

Women, guilty only of committing the singular offence of being too poor
to afford the fee charged for delivering children are still being
detained indefinitely at hospitals. Pumwani Maternity Hospital, Kenya’s
biggest referral hospital is notorious not only for detaining
the women, but also for keeping the detained women in conditions that
amount to deliberate torture.

Members of the Kenya Network of Grassroots Organisation have, since
2007, been monitoring the Pumwani Maternity Hospital and agitating for
the release of the detained indigent women. KENGO makes periodic checks
on the hospital approximately every three months and we are
disappointed to report that despite our efforts, women continue to be
detained indefinitely at the hospital. Nothing has changed and nothing
will unless in solidarity with the women- you join us in our effort to
rescue the detainees and end the practice of detaining women in
hospitals.

When we visited the hospital yesterday (August 3, 2009) we found dozens
of women illegally detained- some have been detained since mid June! So
heartless is the hospital’s administration that even women whose babies
died during childbirth are detained in the hospital and have to go
through the psychological torture of not only having to deal with the
grief of losing a child, but having to do it in the company of mothers
nursing their newly born children. These women are denied the right to
bury their dead babies decently and are forced to give their babies up
to be buried randomly and anonymously by the hospital.

Further, the detained women report that they suffer ill-treatment while
at the hospital. They are fed last after all the other paying patients
have been fed and even then, they are given insufficient food. The
result is that the underfed lactating women are unable to
produce enough milk to feed their babies, causing the babies to become
malnourished and lose weight and get sick- which is the only time the
hospital provides supplements to the babies. The hospital diet consists
of the following:

Breakfast (7:00am-8:30am): 2 slices of bread and one cup of tea
Lunch (2:00pm-3:00pm): Rice/Ugali and cabbages. A small portion of meat
is served 3 times a week.
Dinner (7:00pm-8:00pm): Rice/Ugali and cabbages or beans.
Fruits: one banana or orange served once a week on Wednesdays

Comrades, for women who have to feed their babies exclusively on
breast-milk, the food provided is not adequate. It is not a balanced
diet and it does not aid in the production of milk. At home, the women
would be fed traditional foods and vegetables which increase the
production of milk and enable the women to regain their strength
quickly.

The indefinite detentions are intended to serve as a deterrent; the
hospital argues that if they do not detain the women they will not be
able to collect any fees from others. Thus, poor women are punished so
women who can afford the fees pay. A ridiculous, illogical and inhuman
position- especially considering that all the women would pay to get
out of the hospital if they could! In fact, of the women currently
being detained, at least seven have paid the little money they could
raise yet they are still being detained.

The Pumwani Maternity Hospital has a social worker. However, the
decision to waive fees is made by a “Waiver Committee” which, with no
set date, is randomly convened by the Hospital Secretary. The Waiver
Committee should have sat on Friday July 31, 2009 but with no
explanation offered, it was not convened. A source at the hospital says
that they committee will be convened within the week. Our suspicions
are that the committee does not take seriously the important mandate it
has, the result being that there are women who have been detained from
June 14, 2009. Seven whole weeks!
Unbelievable? You might think so, but that is not the longest period of
detention reported. In the past we have found women who have been
detained for much longer, more than 12 weeks.

Pumwani Maternity Hospital is run by the City Council of Nairobi. It is
a referral hospital, with the patients being referred to the hospital
from the other maternity facilities run by the city council when there
are anticipated complications. The cost of a normal delivery is only 20
Kenya Shillings at these facilities which is usually affordable.
However, when referred to Pumwani Maternity Hospital, the poor women
are required to pay 3,400 Kenya Shillings (approximately US$40). The
services offered are exactly the same, but
the fee charged is 170 times the usual cost!

Where complications require that the delivery be through a caesarean
section, the cost may be as high as 15,000 Kenya Shillings (about US$
200) which is completely out of reach for poor women whose families
live on less than one dollar a day. (56% of Kenyans live below the
poverty line on less than one dollar per day)

The following are the names of the women currently being detained at
the Pumwani Maternity Hospital, including the date of detention, nature
of delivery (normal or C/Section), sex of the child born and fees paid,
if any.

WOMEN DETAINED AT PUMWANI AS AT AUGUST 3, 2009

NAME OF DETAINEE DELIVERY BABY’S SEX FEES PAID
(KShs) DATE OF DETENTION

1. Caroline Mbula Normal Boy — June 14, 2009
2. Sarah Avuyanza Normal Boy — June 19, 2009
3. Ruth Josephine Normal Boy — June 20, 2009
4. Mercy Kendi Normal Boy — June 23, 2009
5. Alice Nyambura Normal Boy — June 25, 2009
6. Jellius Mugure C/Section Boy — June 25, 2009
7. Lucy Mwikale Normal Girl 1,200 June 25, 2009
8. Agnes Kateve Normal Girl — June 27, 2009
9. Joyce Wanja Normal Boy — June 28, 2009
10. Miriam Nzembi Normal Boy 1,000 June 29, 2009
11. Faith Loko Normal Boy — June 27, 2009
12. Tabitha Wangari C/Section Girl 2,500 July 3, 2009
I3. 1rene Afande C/Section Girl 8,000 July 3, 2009
14. Rose Atieno Normal Boy — July 5, 2009
15. Monica Kalondu Normal Still Born — July 5, 2009
16. Alice Akinyi Normal Boy — July 5, 2009
17. Janet Nduko Normal Girl — July 6, 2009
18. Beatrice AdhiamboC/Section Boy — July 7, 2009
19. Violet Makokha Normal Girl — July 8, 2009
20. Beatrice Atieno Normal Girl 500 July 9, 2009
21. Shindash GurachaNormal Boy — July 9, 2009
22. Catherine Musamu Normal Girl — July 9, 2009
23. Edna Waithera Normal Boy — July 9, 2009
24. Hani Ahmed Normal Boy --- July 9, 2009
25. Joyce Achieng Normal Girl — July 10, 2009
26. Judith Wanjiku Normal Boy — July 12, 2009
27. Judy Mwihaki Normal Girl — July 13, 2009
28. Melon Kemunto Normal Still Born — July 13, 2009
29. Nancy Wambui Normal Boy — July 14, 2009
30. Catherine Mutheu Normal Boy — July 15, 2009
31. Salome NyangwesoNormal Girl — July 16, 2009
32. Melisa Atieno Normal Girl — July 17, 2009
33. Grace Wanja Normal Boy 1,000 July 18, 2009
34. Rose Kanini Normal Boy 400 July 25, 2009

Comrades, we have been intervening at the Pumwani Maternity Hospital
for three years now and we are disappointed that little is changing.
The situation is getting more desperate with the hospital’s
administration constantly demonstrating a lack of good faith. Detained
women are only released when we visit and we are unable to make our
visits as frequent as we would like to ensure compliance. It is time to
consider taking more drastic action.

If the practice of detaining poor women in hospitals does not end, we
will be taking direct action against both the hospital and the
government of Kenya. We will require your assistance during those
interventions. We have in mind the following actions:

1. Non-Violent actions at the Pumwani Maternity Hospital in solidarity
with the detained women including overnight candlelit vigils at the
hospital, hunger strikes and other similar actions.

2. Campaign to stop donors from funding government projects as long as
the detentions continue. Many health projects are funded by foreign
governments. You can help us by exerting pressure on your governments
and requiring them to demand that detention of patients in funded
facilities be stopped as a condition to further aid. That would give us
a useful tool for ensuring compliance.

3. Instituting the requisite legal proceeding to guarantee the right to
maternity services for the new-born babies and their mothers. We
resources to enable us to sue hospitals that continue to detain
patients for illegal detention which is criminal and will seek
compensation for the women. If successful, the cost of paying punitive
damages should act as a deterrent ensuring that the hospitals halt the
inhuman practice.

We are in the process of identifying the various donors that fund
healthcare in the country and will relay the information to you for
further action as soon as it is made available.

We thank you for your support and solidarity and hope that you will
take a moment to speak out for the poor women who are unable to speak
out for themselves and who continue to suffer the consequences of
extreme poverty created by government policies that facilitate
corruption, pillage and impunity.

The 34 detainees and their beautiful babies represent the future of our
country. Help us make that future dignified, equal, free and just. Help
us keep hope alive.

Take action- NOW! What can you do to help?

1. Demand the immediate release of the detained women and a complete
end to the practice of illegal detention of poor women in hospitals in
Kenya.

2. Write to Mr. Mwai Kibaki, the President and Mr. Raila Odinga, the
Prime Minister demanding the provision of FREE MATERNITY SERVICES for
all women in government hospitals. As the PNU and ODM presidential
candidates both Kibaki and Raila promised to provide free maternity
care for all women. They are now in positions of great influence and
have no excuse for not delivering on the promises made.

3. Write to the Minister for Medical Services, Prof. Anyang Nyong and
demand that he immediately issue a directive to all government
hospitals to stop the torturous system of detaining poor Kenyans
indefinitely in hospital for non-payment of exorbitant healthcare
bills. Further, demand that the Minister present for debate the
National Social Health Insurance Bill that would ensure comprehensive
healthcare services for all Kenyans. In addition, demand that the
Minister for Medical Services write to the Superintendent, Pumwani
Maternity Hospital ordering a complete end to the illegal detention of
indigent women at the hospital. Further, demand that the Superintendent
ensures that the Hospital Secretary convenes, without fail, the Waiver
Committee TWO TIMES EACH MONTH as required so that the committee can
expedite the release of the women within reasonable time.

Send an email or fax to the following addresses:

1. President Mwai Kibaki, president statehousekenya.go.ke

2. Prime Minister Raila Odinga, info primeminister.go.ke,
ps primeminister.go.ke

3. Minister for Medical Services, Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o ,
enquiries health.go.ke Fax: +254-20-2713234

Comrades, in the past your solidarity and actions have made a
difference. Keep the fire burning, whereever you may be.

Best regards to each and all of you,

Wangui Mbatia


Kenya Network of Grassroots Organisations (KENGO)
Shimo La Tewa Road, Off Lusaka Road, Industrial Area
P.O. BOX 22708-00100
NAIROBI, KENYA
TEL: + 254(0)20 3561313
+ 254(0)20 2351383
+ 254(0)722 747575
FAX: +254(0)20 2351341
Web Site: http://www.kengonetwork.org
Alternate Email: info kengonetwork.org

P.S.

*KENGO is a network of over 2,000 active grassroot organisations which,
through popular participation, confronts poverty using a bottom-up and
rights based approach. KENGO strives to reduce inequalities and to
promote human rights.

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