Kengo is a coordination of grass roots organizations in Kenya, which the CADTM international network collaborates with. Here is their call for a campaign of solidarity with Kenyans being illegally detained.
Hundreds of poor, sick Kenyans are being illegally detained after being discharged from government hospitals because they are too poor to afford their medical costs. This is unacceptable. Can you help? Someone must speak up for Kenyans.
Despite the various promises by our political leadership that they will mind the welfare of the people, and especially the welfare of the indigent, it is appalling that poor people who are unable to pay their medical bills are being detained indefinitely even in government hospitals.
We at Kengo feel that it is time that those of us working with the people start organising for changes that make sense. The cost of living continues to rise even as out leaders continue to increase the tab for the taxpayers. We believe it is time for a calculated campaign to protect our interests as the people and to demand changes that make sense.
As far as healthcare is concerned, we are demanding the release of all Kenyans currently being illegally detained in health facilities, whether private or government owned. It is unconscionable that government facilities would subject sick Kenyans to such inhuman treatment. There is assigned a social worker in ever government facility. To have indigent Kenyans detained for weeks simply means that the social workers are failing in their duties. All social workers and senior administrators working in government facilities where poor Kenyans have been illegally detained after being discharged should have stern disciplinary measures taken against them.
To give you an indication of the depth of the problem, we visited one facility in Nairobi, the Pumwani Maternity Hospital on April 22, 2008. This is what we found:
A total of 33 women were being held there. Of these, 26 had had normal deliveries and been unable to pay the Kenya Shillings 3,400 demanded by the hospital. As such, they had been detained for periods ranging from one week to more than three months and were not only being subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment ( even though there are empty beds, two of the detained women together with their babies have to sleep on one single bed, they get very little food and even then they get food last, there were cases of guards beating the women, one had her personal clothes confiscated after she delivered a still-born, and they are not allowed visitors for fear that they will be smuggled out of the hospital) Some of the women (five) were IDPs.
Kengo has tried to assist with payment where possible and we have talked with the social worker. However, we feel that the problem is national and too big for an institution to attempt making payments. We are therefore requesting organisations that can assist to come forward.
There is need for legal aid to file suit to determine whether the rights of the women to liberty and freedom from illegal detention have been abused. Institutions working in health campaigns, including those working on MDGs can join in picking up the advocacy, and human rights activists and anyone else with a pro-poor agenda should log on.
The following is a list of the women we found at the Pumwani Maternity Hospital on April 16, 2008 and the duration they had been detained.
As at April 20, 2008, the following women were being detained at the Pumwani Maternity Hospital.
1. PERIS KALUKI, SINCE 15, MARCH
2. JOYCE WANJIRU, SINCE 21, MARCH
3. LUCY WAITHERA, SINCE 18, FEBRUARY
4. JUDY ANYANGO, SINCE 16, MARCH
5. RUTH WAITHERA, SINCE 29, MARCH
6. AGNES NYAKIO, SINCE 4, MARCH
7. LINDA ROBAI, SINCE 21, MARCH
8. JANE NDUNGE, SINCE 29 FEBRUARY
9. BERNDETTA MUENI, SINCE 5 FEBRUARY
10. SUSAN MUTHONI, SINCE 1ST MARCH
11. WINNIE MUTHONI, SINCE 25 MARCH
12. TOBISTA ADHIAMBO, SINCE 21 MARCH
13. MARY NJOKI, SINCE 12 MARCH
14. ZUHURA WANJIRU, SINCE 7 MARCH
15. DIANA WAIRIMU, SINCE 23 MARCH
16. MARY WANJIKU, SINCE 19 MARCH
17. GRACE ADONGO, SINCE 18 FEBRUARY
18. JACQUELINE ACHIENG, SINCE 6 MARCH
19. SARAH OMOLLO, SINCE 28 FEBRUARY
20. LILIAN ATIENO, SINCE 13 MARCH
21. DIANA MUSEVE, SINCE 15 MARCH
22. FLORENCE AOKO, SINCE 19 MARCH
23. KEZIAH WANJA, SINCE 10 MARCH
24. MAGDALINE ATEMA, SINCE 15 MARCH
25. MILLICENT AKOTH, SINCE 2ND MARCH
26. JOSTINA MBITHA, SINCE 16 MARCH
Help us restore the dignity of these women, their families and their children. Our future as a nation depends on our ability to come to the rescue of the weakest members in order to strengthen the entire nation. These women could not raise as little as Kshs. 3,400. By keeping them illegally detained the government is now asking them for as much as Kshs. 30,000, almost as ten times the amount they could not raise. Three lost their children during child-birth but they are detained there anyway, with no time to mourn their loss. How long must our poor suffer for simple lack of compassion amongst government officers?
We will send a list of email contact of the responsible officers, including the Ministry of Health for anyone interested to write to them and protest the inhumane treatment of the the poor Kenyans and the abuse of their basic rights.
Someone please speak up!!!!
If you or your organisation are/is interested in being part of the Someone Must Speak Up for Kenyans Campaign, please contact us:
Kenya Network of Grassroots Organisations
P.O. BOX 22708-00100
TEL1: + 254 (0) 20 356 1313
TEL2: +254 (0) 20 235 1383
TEL3: +254 (0) 20 235 1413
FAX: +254 (0) 20 235 1341
CELL1: + 254 (0) 722 747 575
CELL2: + 254 (0) 723 489 463
Web Site: http://www.kengonetwork.org
Alternate Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
KENGO is a Kenyan national network of grassroots organizations including self-help groups, community and faith based organizations and social movements.