Renowned city Health executive Ayisi to be buried on Saturday

He is survived by a wife, four children and two grandchildren

In Summary

• The highly-respected paeditrician died of Covid-19 on Wednesday, November 5, at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital aged 66.

• His public service took him to diverse parts of Kenya - Marsabit, Bungoma, Moyale, Nairobi, et al - where he left befitting footprints his line of professionalism.

Former Nairobi County Secretary and Health executive Robert Kangwana Ayisi.
MAN OF INTEGRITY: Former Nairobi County Secretary and Health executive Robert Kangwana Ayisi.

Robert Ayisi was a stickler for rules. He had causes he believed in. He shunned illegalities and malfeasance is a word you could not associate with him.

For this and many other attributes, the former Nairobi Health executive was a candidate for praise and promotion wherever he worked. 

His public service took him to diverse parts of Kenya - Marsabit, Bungoma, Moyale, Nairobi, et al - where he left befitting footprints especially in medicine, his line of professionalism.


Indeed, he is credited with transforming health facilities wherever he worked. 

Robert Kangwana Ayisi, a highly-respected paediatrician, died of Covid-19 on the night of Wednesday, November 5, at Nairobi's Mater Misericordiae Hospital, aged 66.

None of those he interacted with believed that a medic with 30 years of experience and who at one time was the deputy director of the National Aids and STIs Control Programme, could be felled by coronavirus. 

Ayisi will be buried on Saturday in his Western Kenya home. He is survived by Gaudencia, his wife of 27 years, children Yvonne, Vivian, Raymond and Clare and grandchildren Jabali and T.J.

The staunch Catholic, who at one time was the chairman of Catholic Men's Association at the Holy Family Basilica, was appointed Nairobi executive in charge of health in 2013 by former Governor Evans Kidero. 

His dedication to work caught the attention of his boss and he was in 2016 elevated to be county secretary, a senior position second only to the governor. 

His tenure was not without drama. City Hall cartels and their associates were not happy with the way he was putting the lid on their honey pot. 


The Kenya Revenue Authority also did not give him the opportunity to sit and enjoy his promotion. He was served with numerous demand letters that he should  reveal the details of county transactions, including the one involving lawyer Tom Ojienda.

At the time, Ojienda had runs-in with the taxman over the legal services he had offered to the city county government and Mumias Sugar company. 

As the county secretary, KRA wanted Ayisi to disclose the schedules of legal fee payments the Kidero administration had with Ojienda. The taxman also wanted him to reveal the fee note numbers and associated details. 

Ayisi would supply the required details but withheld some, including the fee note numbers. KRA incessantly repeated its demands.

Ayisi had enough of it. He rushed to court seeking protection from the taxman. He further sought to be compensated for what he termed high handed harassment by the revenue collector. 

The court not only sided with him but also awarded him Sh2 million damages.

That was but one of his other battles. As the county secretary, he was in 2017  roped in in Kidero's spats with the county assembly.

He successfully engaged the MCAs, including petitioning the court to allow him access to his office in the North Wing of the City Hall, which the county assembly had blocked. 

The court allowed his petition and ordered the officer commanding Central police station to protect him as the door to his office was broken for him to gain access. 

Ayisi was kept in public glare even as he lay in his hospital bed. Governor Mike Sonko prematurely announced his death in a tweet early this month.

He tweeted: “It is with great sorrow and sadness that I announce the death of Dr Robert Ayisi……. He will be remembered for his role in streamlining the health sector in Nairobi county. My deepest condolences to his family, relatives and friends.” 

Sonko retracted the tweet and apologised. He also sent two county officials allegedly involved in the misinformation on leave.