One private hospital in Kenya has been in the news for all the wrong reasons for some time now. Mediheal Hospital, owned by an Asian businessman Dr Swarup Mishra a former MP, has branches in major towns in Kenya and has come under heavy criticism from members of the public for among many other things, trading or trafficking in human body parts, and disclosing some patient’s HIV status after testing without consent, among other allegations.
The hospital has also been accused of racism in hiring experts with it being perceived to favour foreign doctors largely from India over local specialists. But perhaps the one issue that is being spoken about in low tones, is the qualification of some of their so-called specialists specifically those in the In vitro fertilization (IVF) clinic.
Adding to the list of dodgy things that have in the past few years threatened to ruin the reputation of this hospital, is the growing concern among patients and other IVF specialists regarding the qualification of the lead IVF Specialists at this hospital.
Patients who asked to speak on anonymity recount how doctor Khandwala acted unprofessional most of the time, characterized by him openly shouting at his juniors, and a lack of sharing findings with patients among other complaints. One patient narrated how, some time back in late 2020, the said doctor put a large number of patients (basically bundling everyone undergoing the procedure) on embryo transfer, and soon after proceeded on his long vacation, leaving them with no one to guide them through the post-transfer process. Visits to the IVF clinic would only lead them to speak to the specialist’s junior staff who seemed clueless about how to help the patients. Most patients received little to no help despite how delicate the procedure is.
Vitro fertilization is a complex series of procedures used to help with fertility or prevent genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child. In Kenya, it is a procedure offered by a few specialists and it is very costly, costing as much as 1 million depending on the facility.
Aside from the financial demands, the procedure also does not often result in pregnancy, on top of being both physically and emotionally demanding. To undergo the procedure, patients will often require counselling to help them through the process. There are also several health risks involved, including side effects from the medicines used during treatment, such as hot flashes and headaches. All these factors will push anyone to their limits. Knowing therefore that a doctor performing this procedure may not be qualified, all the same sends chills down the spine of patients.
For this hospital, even specialists in other facilities have challenged patients to go establish if the said IVF specialist in their Nairobi IVF clinic in Parklands has the requisite qualifications to perform the delicate procedure. One doctor that we spoke to in confidence said, “that guy is a quack. Even in India where he got his qualifications from, he is not registered to perform this procedure.”
Our doctor source faulted the Kenyan government for allowing people with dodgy qualifications to masquerade here as specialists, throwing the entire profession to potential disrepute. For now, the hospital in question adds to its list the number of wrong things on top of organ trafficking and accusations of local staff mistreatment.