Why KNH CEO job is not for the faint-hearted

Running Kenyatta National Hospital, with a Sh15-billion annual budget, is not a walk in park, history shows.

The country’s top referral hospital has had its fair share of leadership controversy, with 34 chief executives having served it since independence.

34 CEOs

Its CEO could easily claim it is the hottest seat in Kenya’s public service.

Of the 34 CEOs who have served the hospital, only three have left in clear circumstances.

Mr Julius Meme, who served from 1992 to 1998, for instance, was promoted to Health principal secretary in 1999 while Simeon Lesiyampe became Environment PS in 2013.

The rest left under a whiff of scandal but the chilling experiences of Dr Charles Kabetu and Simon Monda would scare anyone assuming that office.

Dr Monda’s son was killed under unclear circumstances while he was KNH CEO while Dr Kabetu was left with a bullet lodged in his head.

Many have suffered losses while serving in the position, including getting fired, their families being attacked and killed, as others were dragged to court to face corruption charges.


This could partly be the reason Dr John Ong’ech, a senior gynaecologist and obstetrician, turned down an offer to act a chief executive officer.

With his appointment, Dr Ong’ech would have become the 35th CEO to head the expansive but controversy-ridden facility.

He, however, rejected his appointment, paving way for the appointment of Dr Thomas Mutie.

Dr Mutie has taken over from Lily Koros who was sent on compulsory leave following a botched brain surgery at the facility.

Mrs Koros Tare assumed office on February 24, 2014 after her appointment by the Health Cabinet secretary in consultation with the KNH Board of Management.

Mrs Tare, aged 41, took over from Dr Simeon Monda who acted for eight months.


He took over in June 2013 after Dr Richard Lesiyampe, the then CEO, was appointed Environment PS.

Dr Monda resigned after only eight months in office.

During that time, his son, Newborn Majani, was killed in unclear circumstances and his body dumped near the University of Nairobi on January 12, 2016.

Dr Hosea Waweru took over from Dr Augustine Muita in 2000 and left the hospital in March 2002.

He was replaced by Dr Meshack Onguti, who was dismissed on February 1, 2003.


Dr Waweru was fired in April 2002 and later arrested in June 2002 for allegedly making unauthorised payments in excess of Sh124 million.

Together with another former director, Dr Waweru was later acquitted of charges of failing to remit Sh75 million between July 1991 and March 2001 in statutory deductions.

Pediatrician and oncologist Florence Musau took over from Mr Onguti in the same month but was sent on compulsory leave on May 8, 2005 to pave the way for investigations into multi-million-shilling corruption allegations.

Dr Musau was until her appointment the deputy director in-charge of clinical services at the hospital.


The then Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura ordered that Dr Musau be replaced by one of her deputies, Clinical Services Director Jotham Micheni, in an acting capacity.

Mr Muthaura’s move came two days after KNH doctors threatened to take unspecified action if the director was not suspended to pave way for investigations into fraud allegations.

The suspension came in the wake of a report by the Efficiency Monitoring Unit, which revealed the loss of than Sh300 million through fraudulent deals.

The EMU report placed Dr Musau at the centre of irregular procurement of nuclear medicine equipment, lung ventilators, anaesthetic delivery systems and physiological patient monitors through dummy companies while she served as the hospital deputy director and director, respectively.


Another attempt to defraud the hospital of Sh224 million to acquire a life support machine using an overdraft from the National Bank of Kenya failed when the bank declined to grant KNH an overdraft.

Dr Jotham Micheni, a low profile administrator who shied away from the limelight, was credited with renovating the accident and emergency department, among other achievements.

His contract was not renewed after it expired and he handed over the running of the hospital to his deputy, Dr Charles Kabetu, in December 2002.

Dr Kabetu was later to exit in 2010.

He still lives with a bullet fragment lodged in his skull to date.

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