40 patients escape from Kenya psychiatric ward

40 patients escape from Kenya's only public psychiatric facility. Nine patients have been returned. Some 70 male patients overpowered the guards at the hospital and that 40 managed to escape Sunday.

Kenya police on Monday searched for 31 mentally ill patients who escaped from the country's only public psychiatric facility.

Samuel Anampiu, the police chief in charge of the area where Mathari Mental Hospital sits, said that about 70 male patients overpowered the guards at the hospital and that 40 managed to escape Sunday morning.

Nine of them have since been brought back by parents and guardians, according to hospital medical superintendent Dr. Kisivuli Azenga.

Azenga said one of the patients incited the others after the attendants delayed giving the medicine to the patients.

Mental health care in Kenya suffers from a lack of funding. Poverty, a lack of access and the stigma associated with mental disorders prevent many patients from getting good assistance.

Azenga said the patients who escaped are not a "danger to the society" but added that it is important for them to be returned to the facility so that they can finish their treatment.

He said the escape was unusual because such a large number of patients were involved. Azenga said there have been previous attempts where two to three patients escaped.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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