The contractions had started at dawn. Cecilia Nambozo, a teacher at Busamaga Primary School in Mbale Municipality, knew it was time, so she did what was expected—checked into a hospital at 6am so she could give birth with expert attention at her disposal.
But that was not to be, for more than 10 hours after Nambozo checked into Mbale Regional Referral Hospital to bring unto the world a life, she was ignored, neglected and writhing in pain. Her crime? She did not have the Shs300,000 the hospital medical staff demanded before they could attend to her. And so she wasted away as her husband, Mr Richard Wesamoyo, made desperate runs around the village to raise the money.
That chilly September 6 still haunts Mr Wesamoyo. Nambozo arrived in the hospital at 6am but was reportedly neglected in the Labour Ward until 8pm when she breathed her last. Even then, it is the hospital cleaners who helped remove the baby from her womb. “The lady could not push because the baby was big. The doctors demanded for Shs300,000, which we could not raise,” said Ms Grace Acham, a neighbour who had help transport her to the hospital.
Ms Acham said they had spent the little money they had to purchase surgical equipment. “And when I came back, I found her in pain, crying, there was no help. The medical workers looked on as they asked for money,” she added. Ms Acham said after three hours of waiting and sensing that Nambozo’s situation was deteriorating, she approached a midwife and asked her to attend to her as the husband ran to the village to sell property and raise the money but the midwife and a doctor allegedly declined.
“At about 6pm, Nambozo started gasping; she fell on the floor and was bleeding. That was when the doctor responded and took her into the theatre but it was too late; her life could not be saved. She died.” she said.
The doctor emerged from the theatre after about 10 minutes and announced that both the child and the mother had died, Ms Acham added.
Mr Wesamoyo told Sunday Monitor that his humiliation was iced when medics abandoned his wife’s body in the Labour Ward with the foetus in her womb. He said the body was removed by cleaners.
“They rolled the bed out in the open and started operating her naked for all to see. It was very dehumanising, humiliating for her to be stripped naked by cleaners,” said Mr Wesamoyo. He said they had been going for antenatal check-ups at the hospital and the midwives had told them the baby was big and that it would be difficult for her to have a normal birth. Apparently, the midwives had recommended a caesarian operation for Nambozo.
Dr Bernabas Rubanza, a police surgeon who carried out the postmortem, said the baby weighed 5.2 kilogrammes and that Nambozo died due to failure to push that made the uterus to rapture. He added that due to neglect after the uterus malfunctioned, Nambozo had bled to death.
“This lady reached the hospital at 6am and pleaded with the medical workers for an operation because she knew her status but the medics refused to attend to her until her uterus raptured. This is a pure case of neglect,” said Dr Rubanza. He added: “And this is not the first case at this hospital; many women have died in labour out of neglect.”
Mbale District Police Commander Jacob Opolot said a case has been registered and investigations have started. “We received a complaint and we have opened a file and summoned the medical staffs on duty that night and the day to furnish us with information,” said Mr Opolot.
However, the hospital director, Dr BenonWanume, said at the time of Nambozo’s death, there was another woman undergoing an operation in the theatre and that it was inadvisable to halt the ongoing operation.
“And in any case, it is not the patient who asks for theatre but we examine the patient and recommend. Doctors on duty examined her and by the time they recommended her for theatre she had already raptured her uterus,” he said.
Dr Wanume added: “She was bleeding and we could not save her life. I can’t rule out the issue of asking for money. Some staff do it but we need to investigate this further because it has no proof.”
He said the people who operated Nambozo to remove the foetus where not hospital workers but imposters who sneaked into the hospital.