21 September 2017

Uganda: What Killed Baby Kaguta?

Jinja — One-month-old Kaguta Shabul Sebukaire was last seen in public on the long night of September 14 at Iganga District Headquarters where his mother, the newly elected Iganga Woman MP, Ms Brenda Asinde Suubi, awaited to receive her official election results.

Sadly, four days later, baby Kaguta, named after President Museveni's father, Amos Kaguta, passed away at Lubaga Hospital in Kampala.

The grieving father, Mr Abdallahim Sebukaire, told Daily Monitor in a telephone interview on Tuesday morning that his son, who had appeared okay in the previous two weeks, suddenly became dizzy on Sunday night and was rushed to Lubaga Hospital around noon on Monday. The baby was pronounced dead Tuesday early morning.

"We thought it was merely a rise in the body temperature but to our surprise, his condition worsened and he passed on," the father said.

No postmortem report

At the deceased's burial in Buseiyi village, Iganga District, on Tuesday, no mention was made of the cause of the toddler's death, leaving mourners to speculate that Ms Asinde's busy and tumultuous election campaign could have stressed the baby, who was still in the womb at the time, which might have compromised his health.

Others speculated that the baby could have inhaled teargas that was fired at rioting Opposition supporters outside the vote tally centre on the night of September 14, which slowly crept inside the facility, leaving occupants coughing and gasping for breath.

Ms Asinde was reportedly with the deceased at the tally centre. None of these claims could be medically ascertained in the absence of a postmortem report.

In a telephone interview earlier, Mr Sebukaire had dismissed speculation swirling in the district that his son had been bewitched. "That it is not true!" he said.

When Ms Asinde was nominated to vie for the Iganga Woman MP by-elections on August 21, she was in the advanced stages of the pregnancy.

She would traverse the 16 sub-counties that make up Iganga District looking for votes.

She, however, put her campaigning credentials to test when she addressed a rally nine hours after giving birth at Musana Community Health Centre, in Nakalama Sub-county.

According to Dr Fredrick Ssebatta, a Nansana-based paediatrician, vigorous activity, among other factors, can cause neonatal deaths [deaths of newly born babies].

He noted that most neonatal deaths, which occur between the age of 1 to 28 days, are caused by infections such as malaria, Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), lifestyle like vigorous activity and stress, among others.

On the possibility of teargas inhalation being responsible for the child's death, Dr Ssebatta said: "Closely looking at the individual in question, then, there is a clear line that this inhalation might have disrupted the baby's breath; and such can result in choking," the doctor reasoned.

"But definitely, the teargas may not cause a rise in temperature unless infections have set in," he added.

Without being certain, Dr Ssebatta said the baby could have developed pneumonia if it inhaled teargas powder.

On the contrary, Dr Angela Wamala, a gynaecologist at Jinja Regional Referral Hospital, noted that the vigorous campaign Ms Asinde endured was good for her and the baby and that there was no way it could affect the baby's health.

"If Ms Asinde had produced a dead baby, then we could assert that it was due to the hectic campaign schedule. But since that isn't the case, the baby could have been exposed to infections after birth," she observed.

The Iganga Woman MP seat fell vacant following the death of Hailat Kaudha in July due to pregnancy-related complications.


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