Twenty- five pupils at St Andrews Primary School in Nuu ward in Mwingi Central Constituency in Kitui County have been admitted at Mwingi Level 4 hospital in critical condition after consuming Maize meal made from suspected expired flour at the institution.
Area Public Health Chief Officer Lynne Kitwan on Friday led a team of health officers to the school and upon undertaking an inspection, confiscated over 700 kilograms of expired maize flour, which the health team linked to the illness of the 25 school children.
The confiscated maize flour is currently under the custody of the Nuu police station, as the public health officers embark on investigation of the suspected food poisoning.
Kitwan when speaking to the media lamented over the feeding of expired food supplies to the pupils at a private primary school institution, and wondered about the presence of the expired maize flour supplies at the school’s store.
“It is a sad occurrence, a sad affair that had happened in a private school. It is sad because parents and guardians of these pupils pay a lot of money so that their children can have the best education, care, food and security in private institutions like this one,” said Kitwan.
The health officer noted that the 25 pupils were rushed to the hospital while in critical condition, but doctors have stabilized their condition. Upon admission at Mwingi level four hospital, they were placed in an isolation ward.
Kitwan said that 55 pupils from the school developed health complications, complaining of abdominal pains, diarrhea, and vomiting after consuming the suspected maize flour.
They were rushed to the nearby Nuu health center before the 25 pupils who were seriously sick were referred to Mwingi Level 4 hospital while the other 30 were discharged after receiving treatment at the health center.
Kitwan and her team of health officers have ordered the immediate closure of the institution to allow the health investigation of the suspected food poisoning at the school.
“What we have discovered in our initial investigation is that this school is not up to standard on the feeding of the pupils. This facility has to be closed with immediate effect awaiting further investigations and will be opened once all recommendations are met in line with public health and sanitation regulations,” she remarked.
The County Chief Officer of Medical Services, Dr. Ben Wambua while commenting on the incident expressed regret that it is a shame for the school to alter the expiry date on maize flour packages.
“It is a shame that the school interfered with the expiry date on the maize flour. We cannot be feeding our pupils expired products,” said Wambua.
Director of Health Administrative Services Francis Musyoka, Deputy Director Public Health Faith Mutinda, Sub-County MOH Mwingi Central Dr. Evans Mumo, Assistant County Commissioner (ACC) Nuu Division Mr. Joel Laisuta were among local leaders who rushed to the school and were also present during the health inspection of the facility.
By Denson Mututo and Margaret Omondi