• The hospital does not allow KU medical students to train in its premises
• KU faced opposition in its takeover bid last year, with government officials saying the university was already broke and could not run a proper hospital
Kenyatta University has made a fresh attempt to repossess the neighbouring teaching hospital.
Vice chancellor Prof Paul Wainaina has appealed to President William Ruto to revoke the 2019 legal notice that turned the hospital into an independent parastatal.
Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH) opened doors to patients in October 2019 months after it became a parastatal.
Prof Wainaina says the university’s medical programmes now risk losing accreditation because they were certified on the basis of having a teaching hospital.
“The infrastructure at KUTRRH was inspected and included as part of the School of Medicine during the last inspection by the East Africa Medical Council and Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council in 2020,” Wainaina told the Star.
“Without these facilities, medical programmes at KU risk losing accreditation.”
The two facilities now operate independently and the hospital does not allow KU medical students to train in its premises.
“Medical students must travel for almost 40km to access another facility for medical education,” Wainaina said.
“This inconveniences the students and increases operational costs of the university, considering the current financial constraints.”
The KUTRRH board is chaired by academician Prof Olive Mugenda.
She is regarded as the brains behind the hospital, whose construction she oversaw while working as vice chancellor of KU between 2006 and 2016.
However, Wainaina said she did not conceptualise the hospital. He said it was envisioned in the university’s Master Plan 1990-2020. The Star did not find a copy of the plan.
“The alleged vision carrier was a tutorial fellow by the time,” he said.
Prof Mugenda did not immediately respond to Star’s request for comment.
In his appeal to Ruto, Wainaina said a report by the National Assembly Committee on Implementation in September 2021 advised the government to restore the hospital to KU.
“The specific recommendations were that the President should revoke Legal Notice No. 4 of 2019 and revert the KUTRRH to a university hospital within six months of the adoption of the report,” Wainaina said.
The committee also said the Cabinet Secretaries for Education and Health should ensure that KU’s College of Health Sciences has full access to the KUTRRH facilities for study.
The decision to make KUTTRH a parastatal was initially made in October 2018 by an inter-ministerial committee chaired by Health CS Sicily Kariuki.
In attendance were CSs Amina Mohamed (Education) and Henry Rotich (Treasury) and officials from KU led by VC Prof Wainaina.
The committee agreed the facility would also serve as the teaching hospital of the KU Medical School.
It would have a chief executive officer and a board comprising the VC, KU council chairman and the dean of the school of medicine.
The chairman of the board would be appointed by the President, while two other members would be appointed by the Health CS.
Wainaina says these agreements were trashed.
“This has been hampered by numerous frustrations geared towards the exclusion of the university from the hospital governance,” he said.
He cited Legal Notice No. 39 of 2021 that amended Legal Notice No. 4 of 2019 by removing the vice chancellor, the university council representative and the director general MoH from the hospital board.
“These are very key policy persons in the university and the Ministry of Health,” he said.
Wainaina claimed the hospital no longer supports research but has focused on treating patients only.
“The envisioned university hospital places emphasis on medical education and research with quality clinical service provision being a byproduct,” he said.
KU faced opposition in its takeover bid last year, with government officials saying the university was already broke and could not run a proper hospital.
By June 2021, KU was more than Sh1.3 billion in debt and relied on short-term loans to finance its operations.
In an interview with Star in November 2021, Prof Mugenda said making KUTRRH a parastatal ensured decision-making is quicker and more efficient.
“The original vision was to have a hospital that is associated with the university,” she said.
“But that does not mean it has to be run by the university. It's very difficult to run both. And I have done both now and I noticed you cannot run a university and also run the hospital. It is very difficult.
“In hospitals, the decision-making process needs to be very fast. It's more efficient when you have a separate board and a separate management. And that would not have happened if it was run by the university.”