KAARO KARUNGI | URN – The Ministry of Health is investigating a case where health workers stationed at Mukono General hospital threw a stillborn baby in a placenta pit.
The investigation comes following reports from the mother, 29-year-old Rose Baisi, a resident of Kigombya in Mukono district, that one of her children was thrown in the pit. According to Baisi, what was supposed to be a joyous occasion turned into a nightmare when she was handed one child instead of the two she had been carrying for nine months and whose scan images in the womb she has.
When she complained and presented proof of scans carried out earlier showing she was expecting twins, health workers at the hospital gave her a dead child claiming the baby had been mistakenly thrown into the placenta pit.
Now, officials from the ministry of health have picked interest in the case, saying the behaviour of the health workers involved was not professional and their actions must be investigated.
Dr Charles Olaro, the director of curative services at the health ministry told URN that they were investigating the case and were even going to carry out DNA tests to ascertain whether the baby that Baisi was given was actually hers
“It is unfortunate and the health ministry is going to investigate all the allegations,” Dr Olaro said. “The health workers should not have thrown the baby in the pit. We are investigating the matter because this is a criminal issue where police needs to be involved too.”
According to Olaro, from what they have heard, the nurses at Mukono hospital did not act in a professional manner and the issue is going to be forwarded to the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council. Olaro says they will be carrying out DNA testing to ensure that the dead baby Baisi got was actually hers.
Dr Richard Mugahi, the assistant commissioner in charge of infant and maternal health says there are a number of gaps surrounding the birth of the babies and the placenta pit. He says the health workers at the hospital should have handed over the baby to the mother or her relatives as protocol dictates.
According to Dr Mugahi, the ministry of health’s protocol on hospital waste disposal is clear and shows how hospitals are supposed to handle stillbirths.
The protocol dictates that placenta pits are supposed to be used as disposal sites for placentas or remains of the aborted foetus. The pits can also be used to store miscarried babies that had not properly developed.
Dr Mugahi emphasizes that the health workers in Mukono had no right to throw the stillbirth in the pit. He says there are many irregularities surrounding the case in Mukono.
“There are many irregularities with the way the woman was handled,” he said. “There are many grey areas that we hope this investigation will help us answer.”
When URN visited the hospital, medical officers that reportedly attended to the mother denied having knowledge about the matter. Dr Geoffrey Kasirye, the Mukono Hospital Medical Superintendent told URN that he had heard about the case in the media before threatening to sue the mother of the child.
He says the parents have no right to complain since they accepted the deceased child that was presented to them and even took it for burial.
“I have received such a report, but such claims taint our image as the hospital, so that woman complaining should complain with evidence since we can also take her to court.”
A source at the hospital who preferred to remain anonymous told URN that the health workers involved in throwing the stillbirth in the pit were still working and no audit of the stillbirth has been carried out to date.
Dr Amon Kategaya Aruho, a health rights activist and also the executive director of the Enforcement of Patients and Health Workers Rights (EPHWOR) says that health workers involved in such gross negligence need to be held liable for their actions.
This is not the first time babies have gone missing. In 2013, Micheal Mubangizi and Jennifer Musimenta sued Mulago hospital for the disappearance of one of their children. According to the suit, Musimenta who was expecting twins just like Baisi was handed one child and later informed that her other baby had passed away. However, DNA results later revealed that the baby that was handed over did not even belong to the couple. The hospital was later ordered by the court to pay 85 million Shillings to the parents. To date, the missing child has never been found.