Sept. 19 (UPI) -- The governor of Nairobi, Kenya, is calling for drastic hospital reforms after he found 12 dead babies stuffed in bags and boxes during a surprise visit to a maternity hospital in the capital city on Monday.
Gov. Mike Sonko made the visit after receiving multiple complaints of "negligence and laxity" at the Pumwani Maternity Hospital, he said in a Facebook post.
"During the impromptu visit, I uncovered 12 bodies of infants who died at the hospital mysteriously and their bodies hidden in boxes and paper bags inside a room," Sonko said.
Sonko immediately suspended several hospital officials, including superintendent Dr. Catherine Mutinda, administrator Zaddock Angahya and the obstetrician and gynecologist on duty Dr. James Kamau.
The entire board was also suspended and replaced by a caretaker board to "oversee urgent reforms at the facility in order to restore quality healthcare services."
Hospital officials have challenged Sanko's accusations of negligence and said there were 11 -- not 12 -- infant deaths, which were normal and not the result of malpractice.
"Out of the 11 deaths, fresh new births were four which had low kilograms and no heart rates. Two died out of obstructed labor," chief health officer Mahat Jimale said, according to the Kenya Star.
Two were stillbirths, two were prenatal deaths and the 11th was dead upon arrival to the hospital, he said -- adding that despite the 11 deaths between Sept. 11-17, there were successful 244 deliveries.
The infant mortality rate in Kenya is 34 deaths per 1,000 births, according to World Bank statistics.
Acting health executive Veska Kangogo disagreed with how Sanko characterized the condition he found the dead bodies in, contending that they are normally held in that manner before they go to a mortuary.
"They are always put in a polythene bag, as was the case," she said.