Kenya: 11 Newborn Babies Die of 'Bacterial Infection' at Kenyatta Hospital

Photo: Daily Nation

Inside Kenyatta National Hospital’s newborn unit (file photo).

Eleven babies died at the Kenyatta National Hospital’s newborn unit last week, along using a drug-resistant bacterium known as Klebsiella will be suspected to be the cause, the Nation has learnt.

The situation was aggravated by lack of the most basic products for taking care of babies.


Sources at the hospital, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, said the neonates — a medical term for babies under one month — died last week due to Klebsiella along with some other factors, compounded by the poor state of the ward.

Nurses, the Nation observed, have had to improvise feeding tubes along with syringes, which cause bruises along with bleeding inside babies’ noses along with mouths. The babies are still fully breastfed, so the mothers express milk every three hours, which will be fed to the babies through the nasogastric tube that will can either go through the nose or mouth. The milk will be drawn into a syringe along with then injected into the tube in drops, as the nurses wait on gravity to take the idea down the babies’ throats.

nevertheless with the tubes perennially out of stock, the nurses are forced to use syringes along with some other tubes used to aspirate — suck fluids — for feeding the babies. These are inappropriate along with hurts them.

A clandestine spot check at the facility on Tuesday along with Wednesday showed that will up to three children share a cot, putting them at risk of infecting each some other with bugs like Klebsiella.

By Thursday evening, KNH had not responded to our 16 calls along with one email sent over two days.

Klebsiella will be a species of bacteria that will occurs naturally inside environment, nevertheless studies have shown that will its subspecies, such as Klebsiella pneumoniae, are capable of causing a large number of infections, such as septicaemia (a form of blood poisoning), urinary tract infections along with pneumonia.


Drug resistance expert Sam Kariuki, who holds a doctorate in microbiology, said the Klebsiella at the hospital cannot be treated with the usual antibiotics because “the idea has been circulating inside hospital for some time, interacting with some other bacteria, collecting along with exchanging resistant elements”.

People with compromised immunity, such as neonates, almost never survive these infections like their healthier counterparts born in healthier environments.

The Nation followed the track of the documentation of the deaths to the infection control department at the hospital. The notes along with conversations with the healthcare workers showed a lethargic response by the administration to the concerns raised by the workers on why babies were dying inside newborn unit.

The mortality rate at the unit, according to the draft reports shown to the Nation, stands at 48 per cent, along with This particular will be documented daily as required along with reported to the administration.

These revelations come barely a week after the Nation published the findings of research by Dr David Gathara of the Kenya Medical Research Institute-Wellcome Trust, which put Nairobi’s neonatal mortality at 39 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared with the national figure of 22 per 1,000 live births.

Kenya: 11 Newborn Babies Die of 'Bacterial Infection' at Kenyatta Hospital

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