Sabina Chege calls Health Ministry rep and pretends to have coronavirus symptoms, the receiver’s response shocks MPs, Health CS

By , K24 Digital
On Wed, 11 Mar, 2020 17:54 | 2 mins read
Sabina Chege made the call during a committee sitting attended by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe. [PHOTO | FILE]
Sabina Chege made the call during a committee sitting attended by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe. [PHOTO | FILE]

By Georgina Magondu

Sabina Chege, the co-chairperson of the Parliamentary and Senate Health Committee, on Wednesday, March 11, called a telephone number set up by the Ministry of Health, and pretended she had coronavirus-like symptoms, and wanted the receiver — a representative of the Ministry — to advise her on what to do.

Chege made the call during a committee sitting attended by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe.

The joint committee was keen to ascertain if the Government has put in place measures to combat coronavirus should it be reported in the country.

At first, the Murang’a Woman Representative called the toll-free line 0800 721 316, and her call did not go through. The Health minister told her that the line was at the trial stage, hence the lack of connection.

Chege, thereafter, called another non-toll-free line shared by the Ministry, and the receiver, the Woman Rep said, was “unprofessional and rude”.

After introducing herself as a normal Kenyan citizen — and not an MP — Chege told the receiver that she suspected she had coronavirus.

She said she was coughing persistently and that she felt generally unwell. She also told the receiver that she had arrived from China recently, and was suspecting that she could have contracted the virus while in the Asian nation.

After listening to the caller (Sabina Chege), the receiver — a man identified only as Njoroge — said: “From what you have told me, you do not have coronavirus. If anything, the virus hasn’t reached Kenya yet. However, you can go to a nearby hospital and get checked.”

Chege, who told the receiver that she was calling from Murang’a, insisted to know where she could get tested, given not all hospitals are equipped with coronavirus testing facilities.

The receiver took her round in circles without giving her concrete advice.

Chege told the receiver that being a suspected carrier, she feared she would infect other Kenyans with the virus if she used public transport such as a matatu.

“Even the said-money for busfare, I do not have,” said Chege.

The Ministry of Health representative told Chege to use a boda boda to get her to hospital, adding: “I am wondering why you are saying you don’t have money, yet you came from China the other day.”

The Woman Rep, thereafter, ended the call.

MPs and senators, who are members of the joint Committee on Health, were left shocked by the receiver’s responses.

“That is only one call made, and look at the time the receiver took to give assistance. What if many calls come in in quick succession? You can only imagine what would happen,” said a member of the committee.

Cornered and left with no excuse to give over the receiver’s on-phone conduct, the Health minister, Mutahi Kagwe, said: “I admit that our representatives receiving calls from members of the public need to be trained on effective communication with the masses.”

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