Kenya hospital imprisons new mothers with no money
In this photo taken Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, Maimouna Awuor, 44, speaks to The Associated Press In Nairobi, Kenya. The director of the Pumwani Maternity Hospital, located in a hardscrabble neighborhood of downtown Nairobi, freely acknowledges what he's accused of: detaining mothers who can't pay their bills. Lazarus Omondi says it's the only way he can keep his medical center running. Awuor and another mother told The Associated Press that Pumwani wouldn't let them leave after delivering their babies. (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim)
(AP)—The director of the Pumwani Maternity Hospital, located in a hardscrabble neighborhood of downtown Nairobi, freely acknowledges what he's accused of: detaining mothers who can't pay their bills. Lazarus Omondi says it's the only way he can keep his medical center running.
Two mothers who live in a mud-wall and tin-roof slum a short walk from the maternity hospital, which is affiliated with the Nairobi City Council, told The Associated Press that Pumwani wouldn't let them leave after delivering their babies. The bills the mothers couldn't afford were $60 and $160. Guards would beat mothers with sticks who tried to leave without paying, one of the women said.
Now, a New York-based group has filed a lawsuit on the women's behalf in hopes of forcing Pumwani to stop the practice, a practice Omondi is candid about.
"We hold you and squeeze you until we get what we can get. We must be self-sufficient," Omondi said in an interview in his hospital office. "The hospital must get money to pay electricity, to pay water. We must pay our doctors and our workers."
"They stay there until they pay. They must pay," he said of the 350 mothers who give birth each week on average. "If you don't pay the hospital will collapse."
The Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the suit this month in the High Court of Kenya, says detaining women for not paying is illegal. Pumwani is associated with the Nairobi City Council, one reason it might be able to get away with such practices, and the patients are among Nairobi's poorest with hardly anyone to stand up for them.
Maimouna Awuor was an impoverished mother of four when she was to give birth to her fifth in October 2010. Like many who live in Nairobi's slums, Awuor performs odd jobs in the hopes of earning enough money to feed her kids that day. Awuor, who is named in the lawsuit, says she had saved $12 and hoped to go to a lower-cost clinic but was turned away and sent to Pumwani. After giving birth, she couldn't pay the $60 bill, and was held with what she believes was about 60 other women and their infants.
"We were sleeping three to a bed, sometimes four," she said. "They abuse you, they call you names," she said of the hospital staff.
She said saw some women tried to flee but they were beaten by the guards and turned back. While her husband worked at a faraway refugee camp, Awuor's 9-year-old daughter took care of her siblings. A friend helped feed them, she said, while the children stayed in the family's 50-square-foot shack, where rent is $18 a month. She says she was released after 20 days after Nairobi's mayor paid her bill. Politicians in Kenya in general are expected to give out money and get a budget to do so.
A second mother named in the lawsuit, Margaret Anyoso, says she was locked up in Pumwani for six days in 2010 because she could not pay her $160 bill. Her pregnancy was complicated by a punctured bladder and heavy bleeding.
"I did not see my child until the sixth day after the surgery. The hospital staff were keeping her away from me and it was only when I caused a scene that they brought her to me," said Anyoso, a vegetable seller and a single mother with five children who makes $5 on a good day.
Anyoso said she didn't have clothes for her child so she wrapped her in a blood-stained blouse. She was released after relatives paid the bill.
One woman says she was detained for nine months and was released only after going on a hunger strike. The Center for Reproductive Rights says other hospitals also detain non-paying patients.
Judy Okal, the acting Africa director for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said her group filed the lawsuit so all Kenyan women, regardless of socio-economic status, are able to receive health care without fear of imprisonment. The hospital, the attorney general, the City Council of Nairobi and two government ministries are named in the suit.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
- Hong Kong slashes quota for mainland babies Jun 24, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Hong Kong women protest against mainland mothers Jan 15, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Researchers investigate acceptability of potential HIV prevention device in Africa Nov 11, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Hong Kong warns mainlanders over emergency births May 04, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Hong Kong moves to restrict mainland babies Apr 07, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
Don't doubt it when a woman harried by hot flashes says she's having a hard time remembering things. A new study published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), helps confirm with o ...
Health 54 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
The Senate has overwhelmingly rejected an amendment allowing states to require labeling of genetically modified foods.
Health 1 hour ago | not rated yet | 1
(AP)—McDonald's once again faced criticism that it's a purveyor of junk food that markets to children at its annual shareholder meeting Thursday.
Health 2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Can economic incentives such as gift cards, T-shirts, and time off from work motivate members of the public to increase their donations of blood?
Health 4 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Family caregivers of older adults with dementia are less stressed and their moods are improved on days when dementia patients receive adult day services (ADS), according to Penn State researchers.
Health 6 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Regulating the distribution of power in neurons is done by a system that makes the national electric grid look simple by comparison. Each neuron has several thousand mitochondria confined ...
41 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Two out of five medical students have an unconscious bias against obese people, according to a new study by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. The study is published online ahead of print in the Journal of ...
15 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
International efforts to combat a new pneumonia-like virus that has now killed 22 people are being slowed by unclear rules and competition for the potentially profitable rights to disease samples, the head ...
16 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Breast cancer characterized as "triple negative" carries a poor prognosis, with limited treatment options. In some cases, chemotherapy doesn't kill the cancer cells the way it's supposed to. New research from Western University ...
52 minutes ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
Mayo Clinic researchers have used next generation genomic analysis to determine that some of the more aggressive prostate cancer tumors have similar genetic origins, which may help in predicting cancer progression. The findings ...
55 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(HealthDay)—A shortage of a critical tuberculosis drug has hampered the efforts of health departments across the United States to contain the spread of the highly infectious lung disease, federal officials ...
56 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0