The governor of Nairobi has ordered an investigation after he visited a hospital in the Kenyan capital and found 12 dead babies stuffed in boxes and plastic bags.
Gov. Mike Sonko said he went to the Pumwani Maternity Hospital on Monday after he received reports of negligence and of employees carrying bodies from hospital rooms.
“During the impromptu visit, I uncovered 12 bodies of infants who died at the hospital mysteriously and their bodies hidden in boxes and paper bags inside a room,” Sonko said in a statement.
The visit was captured on video
In a confrontation Sonko captured on video and shared online, the governor stormed into the hospital and demanded to know how many children died that day. A hospital employee told him only one has died since Friday, but the governor said he’s been told the number is higher.
“Don’t play with me, I have information on six bodies,” Sonko said in Swahili. “You told me there’s only one, how many dead babies are there?”
Sonko ordered an employee to open several boxes and plastic bags that were sitting in a room, and said they counted 12 bodies.
“This is a police case. You cannot lose 12 babies in a day. … You’re hiding bodies in plastic bags. … these are human beings,” Sonko said.
Hospitals are overburdened and underfunded
It was not immediately clear what killed the babies or what happened to their mothers. CNN has reached out to Pumwani Maternity Hospital.
The governor said he’s suspended several top hospital officials following the incident, including the superintendent, the administrator and the ob-gyn physician on duty.
Public hospitals in Kenya have a history of neglect and mismanagement, with a health care system that’s overcrowded, overburdened and underfunded. Last year, the treatment at the nation’s hospitals almost ground to a halt when doctors and nurses went on strike for months due to low pay and poor working conditions.
Pumwani has no facilities to store bodies, and it’s not uncommon for employees to temporarily put bodies in boxes before they are transferred to the morgue, a doctor wrote in the Standard newspaper.
In a story headlined, “Facts about Pumwani Maternity Hospital,” Dr. Nelly Bosire said the hospital listed six deaths between Friday and Sunday. Based on the number of births, the number is not unusual, she said.
“This number is against 156 deliveries conducted in the said period. Being a referral hospital receiving complicated cases, this is not uncommon,” Bosire wrote.
Kenyan officials have demanded changes following the governor’s visit to the hospital.
“The situation unearthed at Pumwani is saddening, heartbreaking and undeserving to any family,” Nairobi Sen. Johnson Sakaja tweeted. “Spoken to DCI (director of criminal investigations) to investigate concerned parties on the deaths of the babies as well as allegations of child trafficking and baby swaps.”