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40 Patients Escaped from Psychiatric Hospital in Kenya, Police Say

Update Date: May 13, 2013 11:48 AM EDT

Police are on the hunt for 31 men who escaped from a psychiatric facility in Kenya.

According to AllAfrica, the 31 patients were part of a group of 75 patients in a ward of the infamous Mathari Mental Hospital that threw a protest, then overpowered guards to break out of the hospital on Sunday. After forcing open a door, 35 patients of the total group were detained by guards after they failed to leave the premises of the facility.

In total, 40 patients managed to escape, but nine have since been returned by their parents and guardians, the Associated Press reports.

Currently, 31 patients are currently on the loose. "We have all their particulars and including their pictures and that will make it easy for us to identify them," local police chief Samuel Anampiu said, according to the Agence France Presse. Police say that the case is unusual because of the sheer number of patients who managed to escape.

The BBC reported that some of the patients are known to be dangerous. However, the police now say that the patients are not a danger to society, but need to return to the facility to finish their treatment. The escape was reported to police on Sunday.

It appears that the breakout was linked to a recent complaint by some of the patients, who said that the drugs that they were being administered were ineffective.

The psychiatric hospital, located by the sprawling Mathare slum of Nairobi, the country's capital city, has been immersed in controversy before. A CNN documentary on the hospital prompted human rights groups to call for an investigation of the hospital.

Among other abuses, the documentary showed a dead body held in the same cell as one of the patients.

Mathari Mental Hospital is the country's only public psychiatric facility, the Associated Press reports. Many barriers exist that prevent people from accessing psychiatric care in the east African nation. There is not much funding for psychiatric care provided by the state. In addition, a stigma about mental health care, poverty and a lack of easy access prevent many people from obtaining much of the help that they need.

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