Kenya: Woman Dies of 'Negligence' After Delivery

Migori family pursues justice following woman's death after giving birth

On the morning of May 30, Ms Maurine Akoth developed incessant labour pains at her two-roomed house in Kanyadera village, Migori County.

As labour intensified, she alerted her eldest daughter, Ms Sharon Atieno, who immediately called her step-mother and they rushed Ms Akoth to Nyarongi dispensary.

Twenty minutes later, the three arrived at the local health facility where Ms Akoth was rushed to the delivery room by a hospital attendant.

There was no nurse on sight.

After a successful delivery, Ms Akoth bled to death.

The Nation later established that the 34-year-old had been attended to by a cleaner at the facility.

A medical examination later established that nurses declined to respond to emergency calls claiming that on weekends, they are off duty.

Mr Tom Odhiambo, an uncle to the deceased, accused the hospital administration of gambling with the lives of residents.

"It is unfortunate that negligence and absconding of duty has led to loss of life. Medics at the facility are gambling with lives entrusted in their care," he said.

Mr Odhiambo noted that despite the cleaner making frantic efforts to call the nurses in charge, none of them responded.

"After the cleaner assisted my niece, she made several calls to nurses for assistance but they declined saying it was a weekend and therefore, could not report to work," he said.

According to Mr Odhiambo, his niece bled for six hours, writhing in pain before finally passing out.

Mr John Okeyo, a relative, told Nation that he found Ms Akoth in excruciating pain and no one was attending to her.

"She was helpless and had lost a lot of blood. Her eyes were pale and there was no nurse nor doctor at the health facility," he said when we visited the home on Monday.

It is reported that Ms Akoth breathed her last at 4pm with her relatives helplessly watching. Her newborn baby was neatly wrapped in shawls by her bedside.

An hour later, a nurse came to the ward and upon realising Ms Akoth was dead, she took off to the staff quarters.

News of Ms Akoth's death sparked outrage from residents who stormed the facility demanding answers from the administration.

The irate residents accused the medics of negligence and absconding duty especially on weekends and public holidays.

"This medical facility closes operation on Friday and resumes on Monday, leaving patients at the mercy of quacks and community health workers. It is sad we have lost a life of a mother who had gone to give life," said Serfin Samba, a resident.

Migori County Public Health Chief officer Dalmas Oyugi, however, downplayed the issue terming the Saturday incident an isolated case.

He said the dispensary has qualified medical personnel and dismissed claims of negligence by the health practitioners.

"The incident was unfortunate but the death did not occur as a result of negligence," he said.

Dr Oyugi said they had launched investigations into the cause of death.

"Preliminary investigations indicate that the new mother died of excessive bleeding. We are, however, investigating the matter to establish the exact cause of death," he said.

Former Migori MP John Dache decried the incident and called on the Ministry of Health to investigate the matter.

On Monday, Health CEC Dallas Otieno held a meeting at the facility. Journalists were, however, barred from attending.

Ms Akoth was laid to rest on Monday morning.

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