In March, Kirinyaga women’s representative Betty Maina proposed the inclusion of Health Amendment Bill 2023 in the health act of 2017.

The bill seeks to criminalize the detention of patients and corpses in hospitals and mortuaries over unpaid bills.

The amendment, however, will look to support poor families who are unable to pay the hospital bills.

Additionally, the bill claims to compensate medical facilities that release bodies to their loved ones and fine up to 1 billion shillings to those that detain patients or bodies.

According to the amendment, the national government will provide conditional grants to the county government to deal with revenue lost in health facilities in their jurisdiction.

Nairobi County reported 292 unclaimed bodies from City morgues, with Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) claiming to dispose of unclaimed bodies in its morgue.

In agreement with the bill, the Federation for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) sought to empower citizens in their constitutional right to access quality and affordable healthcare.

Nyali MP Mohammed Ali passed a similar motion in the National Assembly in 2019 on the waiver of medical bills for all Kenyans who died in referral hospitals.

He argued on the poverty aspect for most Kenyans is the major cause for them not being able to afford to pay for the hospital

Numerous reports have been made on patients detained in hospitals, and even families suing hospitals for detaining the bodies of loved ones over debts owed.

Last year, Nakuru governor Susan Kihika cleared a patient’s outstanding Ksh.423,520 bill, detained over a year with no family claiming her.

Another family filed a case at the High Court challenging a hospital’s detention of a patient over a Ksh.4M medical bill that they could not raise.

Ms. Betty Maina, says that poor families are experiencing emotional torture having to deal with the detainment of their loved ones knowing that they cannot afford to raise the outrageous bills.

Health experts have also termed the act as hospital imprisonment which is also a human rights violation.

Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman Ndindi Nyoro, recently confirmed the receipt of the bill, soon adding it as a new section to the Health Act 2017 once passed into law.