Kenya: The Gut-Wrenching Story of Dr Mogusu

Dr Stephen Mogusu continued to serve patients under the most horrible conditions – working long hours and without a salary for several months – dreaming, like thousands of fellow frontline workers across the country, of a better day.

On Monday, the 28-year-old doctor paid the ultimate price when he succumbed to Covid-19.

In an interview with Nation on December 1, Dr Mogusu, then speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, poured out his frustrations.

“I tested positive for Covid-19 and I can’t even afford to treat myself,” he said.

He went on: “That I am doing the government’s bidding at the frontline, yet I can’t afford diapers for my daughter, breaks my heart. Sometimes I wonder how my wife looks at me.”

The young doctor, who worked at Machakos Level Five hospital’s isolation centre, was among 200 doctors deployed under Universal Health Care programme.

“They (doctors) feel neglected, are hungry and broke. They walk to work mostly, while some, like myself, are bed-ridden fighting to stay alive after contracting coronavirus while on duty,” he told the Nation during a telephone interview.

His family yesterday (Tuesday) recalled the struggle to get him treated.

First he was rushed to Komarock Modern hospital, where he spent time in the High Dependency Unit. When his condition worsened he was taken to Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital.

“One week after he got coronavirus, he requested to be discharged and continue with home-based care. He took drugs, but his condition deteriorated. An ambulance returned him to hospital. He requested a certain injection, which he believed would save his life. He required doses for five days, each day cost Sh22,000,” his father, Mr Naftal Mogusu, said.

The money was raised by friends and relatives.

Medical intervention

“But after he received the five-day injections, we were told he needed more for four days. We asked for more contributions from friends and relatives. He later requested to be taken to Kenyatta University Hospital, which he believed offered better health services.

“There, we were asked to first give Sh200,000 before admission. We were not able to give the amount and therefore could not transfer him at the time. But later, we were asked to take him there after Deputy President William Ruto, in one of his talks, mentioned him,” said Mr Mogusu.

Dr Mogusu, 28, had, throughout his life, fought other life-threatening diseases, emerging strong.

His family is at pains to understand why Covid-19 could not spare their only son – and why the government let him down when he needed the support he had selflessly extended to others.

His mother Agnes Moraa said while in Standard Two, Mogusu suffered kidney failure and he recovered after undergoing a series of treatments. In Standard Seven, he suffered meningitis.

“Since that time, he has not had any problem,” said Ms Moraa, a retired nursery school teacher.

His father blames the government for doing little to save his son’s life when he contracted Covid.

“The government had the ability to take care of him and ensure best medical intervention for him. He should have been taken to the best hospital because doctors who save other people’s lives deserve the best,” said Mr Mogusu.

He added, “We knew he might have contracted the disease. But we were hopeful he would recover because with proper medical care, others have recovered. We believed with proper treatment, he would recover. We kept holding prayers with our neighbours, friends and relatives.”

He said although he had lost his son, he hoped the government will ensure doctors are well paid.

“Even if one is still on internship, they deserve good pay. My son had not received anything from government,” said Mr Mogusu, as he revealed that his son was not able to help the family much.

The fifth-born in a family of six children had, however, promised to build a house for his parents.

He leaves behind a wife and a four-month-old son.

Humble background

“But though he has not done much for us, I know he worked very hard. He managed to buy us a cupboard, which we currently use to store utensils,” said Mr Mogusu, as he painted the picture of his family’s humble background.

Mogusu had not seen his parents since February, when he left home for work.

“We heard he had got infected with coronavirus, but we did not go to see him because of the disease. We will now see our son in a coffin, 10 months after we last saw him,” said the father.

“He had stayed for almost a year without coming home. We had hoped his work would help end our economic struggles. He had not been paid for five months he has been working as a doctor,” said Mr Mogusu.

He added: “He was not able to take care of us, but he had told his mother to just wait until he is paid his five months’ salary. He said we would not struggle again and that he would try to provide all we required.”

His parents describe their son as a bright boy. He schooled at Getembe Primary up to Standard Six. Due to his good performance, Genesis Academy took him, and he sat the KCPE exams there in 2002. He scored 407 marks and joined Lenana School, where he scored an A of 84 points.

He then joined the University of Nairobi’s School of Medicine. He graduated on the same day the Deputy President was awarded a doctorate degree in 2018.

His parents recalled that when he was called to join Lenana School, they had only Sh5,000, but the school administration allowed him to join.

They depended on support from well-wishers to pay school fees. Currently, they have school arrears amounting to Sh200,000 in various schools where their six children schooled.

“He loved school and everything he did was related to his studies,” they said.

The family supports demands by doctors, who are on strike, saying if their son had been issued with enough personal protective equipment, he would have remained safe from the virus. They called on unions in the health care fraternity to press on with their demands.

When we visited the family on Tuesday, mourners were trooping in in large numbers to the home at Iranda in Kitutu Chache South, Kisii County.

Additional Reporting By Leon Lidigu and Elizabeth Merab


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