September 23, 2021

Covid-19 discrimination raises concern in Mombasa

Coast General Referral & Training Hospital front gate. photo by Courtesy

BY CHARLES OGALLO

Emily Banda, a middle-aged woman, succumbed to Covid-19 related complications seven days after being mandatorily admitted at the Coast General Referral and Training Hospital (CGRTH).

But family members and relatives are at pain to explain the circumstances of her death and according to them what happened was due to ‘stigmatisation’ by the facility’s healthcare providers. 

The deceased family say her death could have been avoided had the hospital personnel taken their duties seriously instead of taking advantage of the pandemic to solicit for ‘bribes’. 

Expressing his disappointment, an in-law to the deceased, Alphonce Karisa, put the blame squarely on doctors’ negligence claiming their ‘lame excuses’ could not stand the test of a public inquiry. 

“She was of good health when she had earlier visited Agan Khan Hospital for medication before being referred to CGRTH only to be told she was Covid-19 positive and had to be admitted,” he explained.

ISOLATION WARD

According to him the doctors and nurses on duty failed to provide the deceased with oxygen after she developed chest complications at the hospital’s Isolation Ward. 

But contacted over the issue the CGRTH chief administrator Iqbal Khandwalla dismissed accusations leveled against the facility saying their medics are up to the tasks of saving lives and ensuring healthcare for all outpatients or inpatients at the hospital. 

He termed ‘gross negligence’ tagged to his doctors and nurses as ‘mere propaganda’ only meant to tarnish their good reputation of health services delivery. 

“We are professionals and our mandate is to save lives. So those complaining should provide evidence that we can be used to deal with any personnel found culpable of negligence,” said the administrator. 

According to him the public hospital is well staffed and equipped to sufficiently handle COVID-19 patients without favor or discrimination. 

On Covid-19 fatalities, Dr Khandwalla, says the facility is up to the mark to minimise and manage it after the government through public private partnership (PPP) equipped it with all the required medical equipment and supplies such as ventilators, oxygen and PPEs to deal with the virus. 

However, cross-cutting interviews of families whose loved ones have graced the hospital’s isolation ward allege that health workers, particularly doctors and nurses, avoid Covid -19 victims to play safe. 

“Why should health workers fear to take care of coronavirus victims like Emily and yet the government has provided them with required facilities to ensure lives of patients are saved?” Karisa posed.

GRIEVING FAMILY 

Another grieving family of the late Ben Ogunda from Magongo blames their predicament on healthcare providers’ negligence and stigmatised services at CGRTH. 

John Oucho, a close friend of the deceased, questions why they were not allowed to view the body due to what the hospital termed as Ministry of Health Covid-19 protocols. 

“We visited the hospital to see the deceased only to be told by a nurse who went to check on him in the ward that Ogunda was no more,” he said. 

According to him the health workers at the hospital were favoring well-endowed patients while the less-endowed are alleging asked to part with money for their patients to receive care at the isolation ward. 

A Mombasa based mental health expert Dr Muinga Chokwe warns that leaving a patient lonely for long hours in a ward is ‘mental torture’ and can adversely affect the mental status of those admitted as COVID-19 victims. 

In his assessment, once a patient is left in a ward without a nurse or family member around, the chances of that patient dying from stress and depression remains high. 

He recommends doctors and other healthcare worker to ensure they regularly keep in touch with their patients and where possible allow close family members to visit them for their mental well-being. (Edited by Mwakera Mwajefa)

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