The Kenyatta National Hospital is east Africa’s biggest medical institution, home to more than a dozen donor-funded projects with international partners — a “Center of Excellence,” says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The hospital’s website proudly proclaims its motto — “We Listen … We Care” — along with photos of smiling doctors, a vaccination campaign and staffers holding aloft a gold trophy at an awards ceremony.
But there are no pictures of Robert Wanyonyi, shot and paralyzed in a robbery more than a year ago. Kenyatta will not allow him to leave the hospital because he cannot pay his bill of nearly 4 million Kenyan shillings ($39,570). He is trapped in his fourth-floor bed, unable to go to India, where he believes doctors might help him…
The hospitals often illegally detain patients long after they should be medically discharged, using armed guards, locked doors and even chains to hold those who have not settled their accounts. Mothers and babies are sometimes separated. Even death does not guarantee release: Kenyan hospitals and morgues are holding hundreds of bodies until families can pay their loved ones’ bills, government officials say.
Dozens of doctors, nurses, health experts, patients and administrators told The Associated Press of imprisonments in hospitals in at least 30 other countries, including Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, China and Thailand, Lithuania and Bulgaria, and others in Latin America and the Middle East.
Here is the full story by Maria Cheng, via Daniel Lippman.