40 Patients Escape Psychiatric Hospital in Kenya

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By Sami K. Martin, Christian Post Reporter
May 13, 2013|1:41 pm

Police are searching for 40 mentally ill patients who escaped from Kenya's only psychiatric facility. Mental health care is seriously underfunded in the country, and patients complained that their medications were ineffective.

Approximately 70 male patients overpowered the hospital guards; 40 of them managed to escape, while the other 30 remained in custody. Samuel Anampiu, the police chief in the area, said that patients had complained of ineffective medications and decided to rebel. They had staged a protest prior to overpowering the guards, police said.

"We have all their particulars, including their pictures," Anampiu told the Associated Press. "That will make it easy for us to identify them."

10 of the men have been found, but 30 are still are the run. The patients at the Mathari Mental Hospital in Nairobi, were the subjects of a CNN documentary titled "Locked Up and Forgotten." The CNN crew reported on several human rights abuses that had gone unnoticed or unattended by the hospital staff.

"They must have strategized. It is not possible that, without proper planning, 75 people can break two doors and more than half of them run away," Anampiu told the AFP.

Police have launched a massive search for the escaped patients, and are counting on many of them to return voluntarily or involuntarily by their family members.

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"I just followed one of the patients … then made my way home. At home, I realized the environment was different," Kevin Kemboi told the AFP. He escaped with fellow patients but decided to return to the facility.

The hospital is close to the Mathare "slum district" of Nairobi, al Jazeera reported. It shows the amount of poverty that many in the hospital face day-to-day. The hospital itself is underfunded, leading to a lack of proper health care and treatment. Patients rebelled, stating that the medication they received was ineffective, though the hospital has not responded to the patients' claims.

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