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Deborah Monari: Championing Patients’ Rights in Kenya’s Healthcare System

Deborah Monari advocates Patients' Rights Committees Establishment

Deborah Monari’s journey from a dedicated nurse to a passionate advocate highlights the pressing need for change within the country’s healthcare system. Her unwavering drive to establish Patients’ Rights Committees in hospitals is making a real impact.


Deborah’s story began when she faced troubling symptoms hinting at a serious health issue. Despite her background as a nurse, her concerns were repeatedly brushed aside by doctors at eight different Kenyan medical facilities.

She underwent various tests, with doctors suggesting her symptoms were due to harmless issues like scars or cysts. Her symptoms included fainting and seizures, which doctors attributed to panic attacks and epilepsy, despite no prior history of such conditions.

‘’Initially, it was clear that my symptoms were pointing towards a problem with my brain because there were symptoms like fainting, and seizures so it was clear that I needed maybe more imaging, and more diagnostics to check what the issue might have been. I was getting a lot of dismissals and I realized a lot of the doctors I was consulting were not so concerned with what I was telling them,”

“Some would tell me that there are women who could get such fainting spells during their monthly cycles or it could be panic attacks or epilepsy and I was wondering how I get epilepsy in my 20s that I’ve never had before,’’ Ms. Monari said during an interview.

Deborah Monari advocates Patients' Rights Committee established
Photo: Zayed Law Offices

Frustrated and increasingly ill, Deborah’s family decided to seek medical help in India. They encountered emotional and financial challenges, but they managed to reach India for a fresh perspective on Deborah’s condition.

In India, a doctor reviewed her scan from Kenya and diagnosed her with a frontal lobe tumour. Further tests led to a successful surgery and marked the beginning of her recovery. This experience convinced Deborah that the Kenyan healthcare system needed to pay closer attention to patients.

Her advocacy journey took a significant turn when she connected with the Nguvu Collective, an organization that helps individuals drive change in their communities. They provide education and mentorship to help people turn their ideas into action. Nguvu Collective introduced Deborah to Change.Org, a platform for creating and sharing petitions, which greatly boosted her advocacy efforts.

She has taken her advocacy to a new level by filing a petition calling on Health CS Susan Nakumicha to set up Patients’ Rights Committees in all healthcare institutions and county governments. Her goal is for these committees to be established in healthcare facilities across the country, with county governments taking the lead in forming these committees.

On Wednesday, October 4, Cabinet Secretary of Health, Susan Nakhumicha , reiterated the Ministry’s strong commitment to patient safety and engagement. She expressed support for a healthcare system that protects patients and enables them to participate actively in their health journey. This commitment is part of a broader agenda to ensure that quality healthcare is accessible to all in Kenya.

“Our dedication towards patient rights and safety extends beyond mere rhetoric, with concrete actions taken to prioritize patient involvement in policy formulation, governance structures, safety protocols, and their own individual care.” CS Nakumicha shared with the change leaders

Her journey, from facing health challenges to being an advocate for change, highlights the difficulties many people encounter within the healthcare system. Her unwavering determination to establish Patients’ Rights Committees and her collaboration with organizations like Nguvu Collective show that change is possible.

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Now working as a nurse, Deborah has become exceptionally attentive to her patients, making sure not to dismiss their concerns, even when they have symptoms similar to what other patients have experienced. Her story emphasizes the importance of healthcare providers listening to patients and taking their concerns seriously.


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