Two civil society organisations, CSOs and three MPs have vowed to sue government and a doctor in Mukono for negligence in relation to the death of an expectant mother on October 20.
The woman, Florence Nakamya, 23, was referred from a health centre IV in Mukono to the doctor’s private clinic in Nabuti, where she died.
According to relatives, Nakamya needed a simple surgical procedure to save her life and her second born, but was abandoned by a doctor on duty for 12 hours. Later the same doctor referred her to his clinic, where she died from obstructed labour.
At a joint press conference in Kampala, on Tuesday, the Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD), the Coalition to Stop Maternal Mortality and three MPs condemned police’s reluctance to prosecute the doctor, who referred Nakamya to his private clinic in Nabuti promising to help her deliver at a smaller fee.
Dr Christopher Bingi was arraigned in court on Wednesday and remanded. The activists and legislators claim that Nakamya died due to government’s failure to prioritise the maternal health needs.
“Florence Nakamya did not have to die but she died because her rights were violated – the constitutionally-guaranteed rights of women, the right to life, to health, and the protection from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” said Moses Mulumba, the Executive Director of CEHURD.
According to records at Mukono Health Centre IV, Nakamya checked in at 5:30am, in the company of her husband Steven Mpanga, her mother-in-law Mary Nakanwagi and a friend with early labour pains.
After an examination by the midwife on duty, Nakamya was informed that she needed surgery to deliver – at a cost of Shs 250,000 or be referred to Mulago hospital for surgery if she could afford the fuel for the community ambulance, recently donated to the health facility.
Meanwhile, the surgeon there, one of the three doctors on duty, Dr Christopher Bingi, claimed that for Shs 90,000 he would deliver Nakamya normally at his Nasuuti private clinic. Nakamya then waited for four hours at his private clinic as her condition worsened, before she died.
Betty Nambooze the MP of Mukono municipality, where the incident occurred, blamed the police at Mukono for protecting Dr Bingi to the extent of failing to produce him to court.
“Usually police is eager to expose gamblers to journalists. But in the case of Dr Bingi, they denied journalists from taking his photograph and instead of taking him to police cells, he was put up in a residence of one of the investigators … until the mandatory 48 hours expire for him to gain bail,” said Nambooze.
Nambooze later said the health centre serves three districts with 487 mothers delivering there each month. Some 58 of them deliver after an operation, but the health centre has only 12 beds, with the rest of the expectant mothers waiting in the compound for their turn on the beds.
Nambooze was flanked by MPs Bakka Mugabi (Bugiri) and Haruna Kasolo Kyeyune (Kyotera), who vowed to raise the issue in Parliament. The legislators want a bill prohibiting doctors working in government hospitals and health centres from running private clinics.
Nambooze also wants the Medical Council to withdraw Bingi’s practising certificate.
“This is a proper case where government needs to compensate Nakamya’s family for the negligence of its staff without waiting for a court procedure,” she said.
The widower Mpanga fainted while narrating the ordeal of his wife’s death and was removed from the press conference. CEHURD has assisted many families across the country to sue errant medical officers.