A 28-year-old quack believed to have tall relatives on Monday confessed to have treated patients, performed surgery and delivered babies by Caesarian section even though he is not a doctor.
The strange thing is that not only did he put the lives of hundreds of Kenyans at risk for more than two years, the ministry of Health promoted him to Medical Superintendent!
Mr Ronald Kiprotich Melly, 28, the Medical Superintendent of Meteitei Sub-County Hospital in Nandi, is believed to be the grandson of the late Ezekiel Barng’etuny, a successful businessman and powerful Moi-era politician from the same area.
Mr Melly was arrested at the Kenya Medical and Practitioners Board offices, where he had been tricked to believe he was going to renew “permanent” medical licence.
Police officers on the case on Monday told the Nation Mr Melly did not finish his studies at the University of Nairobi and wondered how he was deployed as a medical doctor by the Ministry of Health in April last year.
Documents show that he was posted to Kendu Adventist Hospital in Homa Bay County for 12 months after graduation, earning a monthly salary of Sh35,910, a house allowance and other benefits.
This is despite the fact that for one to be posted as a doctor, the graduating university must send the list of names of its medical students to the Ministry of Health, which then deploys them for one year internship in selected institutions.
On Monday, Mr Melly confessed to the Medical Board CEO Daniel Yumbya that he still had three supplementary exams pending, meaning he was never qualified to graduate, let alone practise as a medical doctor.
FORGOTTEN ADMISSION NUMBER
“The university cannot trace him on their records,” said Mr Yumbya. “He is not among those who qualified or failed in his year. What is even surprising is that Mr Melly says he has forgotten his university admission and registration number. I am waiting for official communication from the university tomorrow (Tuesday).”
Minutes after he was arrested by officers from the Special Crimes Prevention Unit, Mr Melly confessed to the Nation that he had “conducted surgeries, Caesarean Sections and other medical procedures” as was required of him.
The investigation into his suspicious posting in the medical field began after the Nation contacted the board to confirm his status after a tip off by some doctors, who requested anonymity, and who had interacted with him but “felt he was not properly trained” and “neither had they seen him in their classes while at the university”.
When asked by Nation to name some of his lecturers or his classmates or even his registration number, Mr Melly broke into a sweat, explaining that he could not remember some names or his registration number, and insisting instead they were in his car or back at home.
Mr Melly sat his secondary examination at Tinderet Boys and got a ‘B’, meaning that if at all he was admitted, he must have been under the parallel degree programmes.
Interestingly, some of his application forms to the medical board, seen by Nation, show that he claims to have an undergraduate medical degree awarded in 2014 by the University of Nairobi. Notably, he listed the firstname.lastname@example.org as the institution’s official address.
The arresting officers rode out in Mr Melly’s CRV Honda from the medical board offices but one of the police officers drove it to the Nairobi Area traffic Headquarters at around 2.15pm on Monday.
At the police station, the officers wrote a letter to the Ministry of Health requesting verification of the authenticity of the posting letter.
It is while at the ministry, at around 3.45pm Monday, that the paper trail led to a series of forgeries and unexplained disappearances of Mr Melly’s records.
For instance, Mr Melly produced a letter of completion of internship from the Kendu Adventists Hospital, allegedly signed by the Chief Medical Services, a Dr Marwa Joel.
But when contacted over the letter by Dr Pacifica Onyancha, Head Department of Health Standards, Quality Assurance and Regulations, Dr Marwa said: “We had written a letter to have Mr Melly repeat his internship because he was not qualified to proceed. His attendance to his internship was erratic and he would disappear for weeks and when he came back, he would threaten us with his relative’s name.” These letters are given to medical interns who present them to the ministry to proceed with appointment.
Dr Marwa added: “Just a week before the end of his internship, the cabinet that holds our official letterheads was broken into and we suspect Mr Melly in collaboration with others got this letterhead and wrote himself a letter of completion. He was meant to repeat not proceed.”
However, it is this letter, now alleged to have been forged, that he presented at the Ministry of Health as proof of completed internship so as to be posted for employment. He also has in his possession a temporary licence for the internship, which shows his qualifications as a degree in Bachelor of Medicine, dated 2015.
Interestingly, records from the Health ministry show he was sent to Homa Bay County but instead he was employed in Nandi County.
Mr Melly told police officers that he had also worked at the Kapsabet County Referral Hospital between May and October this year until he was appointed the Medical Superintendent of Meteitei Sub County Hospital. At this post, he would also be in charge of the sub-county, Dr Onyancha said.
A clearly shocked Dr Onyancha told the Nation on Monday at her office: “It is unbelievable how he did all this. What is even stranger to us is that we cannot seem to trace the first letter he brought to us for his internship that began this whole process.”
She added: “We are working with the university to get his records, such as his registration number, which we understand he cannot remember. All we have from him is that he graduated in 2013, which contradicts with what he was filling in to the Medical Board as 2014.”
Mr Melly is expected in court on Tuesday.