Canadian Politicians Protest Kenyan Student Tevin Obiga’s Sh50 Million Hospital Bill

tevin ogiba
Tevin Obiga. [Courtesy]

A family of a Kenyan student in Canada has been hit with a Sh50 million medical bill.

Tevin Obiga, a fourth-year computer engineering student at the University of Manitoba, passed away last week at Winnipeg’s St Boniface Hospital.

Canadian politicians have since his death voiced their displeasure with the bill, urging the government to reinstate health insurance for international students.

Obiga was admitted to the hospital in mid-January and moved to intensive care less than a week later after being diagnosed with blastomycosis, a fungal infection that affects the lungs.

Last week, his family received a medical bill of $517,764 (Sh50 million) for his stay at the hospital.

According to the national news outlet CBC, Manitoba Liberal party leader Dougald Lamont asked the government to immediately reinstate a programme that helped international post-secondary students pay for their health insurance and healthcare.

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It was disbanded by the Progressive Conservatives in March 2018.

“It’s a pretty low price to pay to make sure that students from abroad who study in Manitoba, who bring hundreds of millions of dollars with them, actually can get healthcare coverage when they need it,” Mr Lamont told CBC.

When Obiga’s family and members of Winnipeg’s African community received the exorbitant hospital bill, they were trying to raise $20,000 to fly Obiga’s remains to Kenya for burial.

The majority of the expenses were incurred over the course of a 43-day stay in intensive care.

The deceased’s mother, Lilian Ndiego, was granted a temporary visa to visit her son in February. Her application had previously been rejected.

Her visa was approved two weeks later after “new information” was submitted in the second application by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

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She told Radio Canada News that she had filed for a visa before, but that it had been denied by the Canadian High Commission in Kenya on February 15.

“I’m excited and I’m very grateful,” Ms Ndiego told the station then.

“I’m looking forward to going and seeing my son, and to giving him moral support.”

Tevin was “at great risk of imminent death,” a letter by the Kenya High Commission in Ottawa read, but there was still a slight possibility he might survive.

Tevin became unwell on January 13 and was taken to the health facility where the doctors performed a medical procedure on him.

He did not wake up after the procedure.

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He was transferred to the intensive care unit on January 19 and remained hooked up to multiple devices, including a lung bypass machine.

Dr Owen Mooney, who treated the departed, wrote three letters asking that Ms Ndiego be allowed to travel to Canada since “his condition is fast deteriorating.”

Tevin was on the utmost level of life support a patient could get, said Dr Mooney.

On February 4, Winnipeg South MP Terry Duguid sent his own letter to the Canadian High Commission in Kenya, expressing his support for her visa application.

Mr Duguid praised Ms Ndiego’s prior 20-year job as a social worker in the letter, writing that she has “a strong inclination to (return) to her duties and children, following her time in Canada.”

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Written by Eva Nyambura

Content creator at | Passionate about telling the untold story. Lover of life, music and technology. Simplicity is KEY


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