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Power Blackouts Leave 10 Babies Dead

July 28, 2000

Tervil Okoko PANA Correspondent

NAIROBI, Kenya (PANA) - Power cuts have caused the death of at least 10 children at a Kenyan town hospital in the last two weeks, a local daily reported Friday.

The People Daily quoted reports indicating that the 10 succumbed to death after incubators at the Embu Provincial General Hospital, about 94 miles north east of Nairobi, failed to function.

The hospital's administration board held a crisis meeting Thursday and decided to urgently procure a standby power generator, which the board estimates to cost about 26,881 US dollars.

The hospital's superintendent, Dr. S.N Kimani, complained that although the hospital had been assured of being exempted from the ongoing nation-wide power rationing, there had been persistent power disruptions, adversely affecting its operations.

He said that he had held several meetings with the local district commissioner, John Makumi, to seek proper measures to deal with the disaster.

"We are working hard to improve the situation. A team of employees have been dispatched to Nairobi to shop around for a generator," Kimani explained.

He added that the hospital could no longer take the risks, thus the decision to procure the generator.

Currently, the hospital's incubators have been rendered useless due to the ongoing power rationing and surges, and immature babies born at the institution are threatened with death.

"The hospital has a small generator that cannot provide the amount of power to sustain the hospital machines in the crucial areas of theatre, the intensive care unit and the maternity wing," he said.

He complained that although it was mandatory that once the hospital buys a generator, this would greatly strain the health institution's resources, arguing that extra spending had not been planned for.

Since the power crisis hit Kenya like a meteorite two months ago, accusations and counter-accusations have been levelled in regard to who is to blame for the problem.

However, with the death of the 10 babies, Kenyans have already started counting their losses occasioned by the gloom.

The deaths come amid assurances from the energy ministry and the Kenya Power and Lighting Company that medical institutions would not be affected by the rationing.

According to energy Minister Francis Masakhalia, all health institutions, universities, and other national tertiary institutions are not subject to power cuts.

-- (, July 29, 2000

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