The county government has raised a red flag over fraudsters masquerading as health officers and extorting money from residents seeking treatment in public facilities to help them get services.
Governor Mike Sonko said conmen and fraudsters are illegally operating inside and outside the major public hospitals in the city.
“I wish to caution members of the public against dealing with fraudsters and conmen who are illegally operating inside and outside Nairobi City County public hospitals,” Sonko said. They are extorting money from the poor – often desperate and unsuspecting – residents seeking medical services in the facilities.
“I’m urging members of the public to exercise caution while seeking services at our health facilities,” Sonko said in a statement.
The governor’s caution comes following the arrest of a man suspected to be part of the extortion ring at the Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital.
John Odhiambo was on Wednesday arrested while extorting money from a patient in the pretext of helping him get treatment at the hospital.
He was booked at the Soweto police station under OB number 27/29/08/2018. Police are still hunting for his accomplices.
The busy hospital serves more than 1,200 patients a day, mostly poor slum dwellers from Kayole and Mukuru slums. The facility has, however, had challenges including claims of negligence of the medical staff, lack of medicine and other medical supplies.
Last week, the county government destroyed more than 30 pharmacies, laboratories and clinics situated right opposite the hospital.
The demolition followed complaints by the management of the public hospital that the facilities in its vicinity were interfering with the operations of the hospital.
Medical superintendent Musa Mohamed said the operators were directing patients seeking services in the main hospital to their facilities, where they overcharge and offer substandard services, thus tarnishing the name of the hospital.
Meanwhile, the county has launched a crackdown on its staff who have allegedly been soliciting bribes from members of the public.
This follows complaints from the public about errant inspectorate officers who demand bribes from the public.
The Star has established that at least six senior Inspectorate officers could be suspended over bribery claims. This comes after two askaris were recaptured on video demanding Sh3,000 to free a man who had parked his car near Electricity House.
“The man had no option and went to an M-Pesa agent and withdrew Sh2,000 which was the only money he had. They gave him the money and left his car,” Sonko said.
County communication director Elkana Jacob said, “It is wrong when a county staff is caught taking a bribe openly. Others go to an extent of receiving M-Pesa from the suspects. I don’t know whether they want Sonko to hold the Bible and start preaching to them so that it can be a serious issue to them.”