Kenya: 40 mentally ill patients escape Nairobi psychiatric hospital

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A woman buys from a street vendor near a sign showing the direction to the Mathari Mental Hospital on May 13, 2013 in Nairobi. Kenyan police have launched a manhunt for 40 mentally ill patients who escaped from a psychiatric hospital in the capital Nairobi, officials said Monday. The patients overpowered guards and forced open the door of their ward in the Mathari Mental Hospital on Sunday morning, said local police chief Samuel Anampiu. At least 35 others were stopped by guards from leaving after the initial breakout. The hospital lies close to the sprawling Mathare slum district of Nairobi.

Credit:

SIMON MAINA

Kenya police are searching for 40 mentally ill patients who escaped from Nairobi's Mathari Mental Hospital after overpowering guards on Sunday.

Police Chief Samuel Anampiu said Monday that about 70 male patients overpowered hospital guards, allowing 40 patients — some known to be violent — to escape.

Those who managed to escape had previously complained that they were being given ineffective drugs.

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"We have all their [the patients'] particulars, including their pictures and that will make it easy for us to identify them," said Anampiu.

Mathari is the largest psychiatric hospital in Kenya, where mental health care suffers from a lack of funding and patients often don't get adequate care because of poverty, a lack of access and the stigma associated with mental illness.

A rights group also called for an investigation into the hospital in 2011 after the CNN documentary "Locked Up in Hospital" was released. The crew looked at human rights abuses at Mathari and, during a visit to the hospital, they reportedly found a dead body locked up in a seclusion cell with a patient.