A patient scheduled to travel to India for specialised treatment has been left stranded at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) after she was ejected from the plane.
Wangari Ndumia, 25, was whisked out of an Etihad flight EY 642 together with her sister after differences emerged on her fitness to fly.
While her sister, Ann Ndumia insisted that she was in a stable condition to board the plane that was making a stop in Abu Dhabi before connecting to Delhi, India, the officials of the airline claimed she was not fit.
This is despite the two having boarded the plane, already seated and was just waiting for the flight attendants to allocate her sister a favorable seat with enough leg room.
However, as soon as all the passengers had boarded, a call was made and what followed was the security officers directing them to leave the plane.
Ann said this was the second time they were being denied a chance to travel. The first time was on Tuesday where Air Arabia also did not allow them to check in.
“And they (Air Arabia) refused to refund us the cash we paid a total of Sh116,870,” said Ann, almost breaking down.
According to an email seen by The Standard addressed to a local booking agent, Prudential Travels the airline laid blame on the agent.
“For all medical reasons travel you ought not to issue tickets before medical clearance with a fit to fly remark,” read the email in part from Air Arabia.
It added: “Kindly note your ticket was within 24 hours we cannot cancel, only airport taxes can be reversed and credit note issued under the same passenger names. No cash fund is given on Air Arabia. You may cancel the inbound flight.”
After this mail, Ann said she was forced to go back to the same agent to try a secure another flight, which she said, she was instructed to add Sh50,000 more. She only had Sh25,000 and so reached an agreement that she will pay the rest once she is back from India.
This is when the agent booked another flight with Etihad that was scheduled to depart on Sunday 2:15pm via Abu Dhabi before connecting to Delhi.
This time round, the agent had all the papers right including a medical certificate signed by Dr Diane Mclvor of Etihad.
On the flight ticket too it was indicated that she was a medical case described as ‘wheelchair all the way seat-confirmed.’
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But as soon as the plane was already boarded, Ann and her ailing sister, whose right leg is being held together with screws due to massive loss of bones, were instructed to leave the flight.
An exchange ensued between the Etihad officials and the family who wanted answers on why they could not be allowed to travel.
“We called Medilink, which is the global agent on medical issues for all airlines based in Singapore and they said she was not fit to travel,” said the Etihad official in charge, who also claimed that Wangari was screaming in pain when she was being assisted to board.
“But she is sick. What did they expect her to do?” posed Ann.
Ann claimed that she was assured her sister will get a seat with enough legroom since her leg cannot bend.
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Another official of the airline explained that such cases of patients being denied chance to travel are rampant since the booking agents do not take full consideration of the patients’ status before in order to find them favourable seats or alternative means of flying-which in Wangari’s case, should have been a stretcher.
Jericho Mutuku, from Prudential Travels told The Standard that all the paper work was followed in booking the flight.
“I even have emails that authorised the bookings,” he said.
He said only available options for the stranded patient is to fly with another airline possibly Emirates or Kenya Airways which has direct six hour flights to India.
“But KQ only gets to Mumbai yet they are heading to Delhi,” he said. Ann said she avoided KQ during the booking as charges then were USD1,750 per person compared to Etihad USD630.
The family however has already exhausted almost all the cash they had having spent Sh141,870 including a portion of what they are to use as accommodation.
An authorisation letter from National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) signed by Dr Samson Kuhora indicated that Wangari has been diagnosed with severe osteomyelitis (infection of the bone) and large bone loss of the distal left femur following a fracture and has been referred for insertion of mega prosthesis at BLK Hospital, New Delhi.
“NHIF has reviewed this case and is undertaking to pay up to Sh500,000 which is equivalent of USD 4,921 for the procedure including investigations related to the primary reason for travel,” read the letter.
Wangari was involved in an accident in November 2017 which led to her being hospitalised for a whole year in Mombasa and Nairobi.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
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Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
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Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.