Monday August 12 2013

20 pregnant mothers die as ambulance is confiscated

By Steven Ariong

Napak- About 20 mothers with delivery complications in Napak have died in the past 10 days after failing to be taken to Matany Missionary Hospital, the largest health facility in the district.

The difficulty in transporting the women from different health centres to the hospital was compounded by the fact that the only ambulance in the district was confiscated by court bailiffs.

Local authorities have identified some of the dead as Sarah Lomuria, 23, a resident of Kocolut village in Lokopo Sub-county, Pelina Nakut, 30, a mother of two and a resident of Apeitolim trading centre in Lokopo Sub-county and Melda Naputhyang, 20, a resident of Alekilek village in Irriri Sub-county. Nakut and Naputhyang died on August 2.

The others are Betty Nachugea a resident of Nakayot settlement camp in Irriri Sub-county, Mary Nangiro from Nangorikipi village in Lopei Sub-county, Rose Ngorok, a resident of Kokeris village in Matany Sub- county and Jacky Naput, a resident of Lomerimong village in Ngoleriat Sub-county.

Dr James Lemukol, the district health director, said the incidents had gone up because the ambulance, which was critical in ferrying the expectant mothers from remote health centres to Matany Hospital, had been attached by bailiffs. The van also served neighbouring districts of Moroto, Nakapiripirit and Amudat.

The ambulance was attached following a ruling last month by the Moroto Chief Magistrate, Mr Moses Mutazindwa, that the training wing of the hospital, Matany School of Nursing, had wrongfully dismissed a student who was reportedly caught stealing drugs in the hospital. Whereas the magistrate awarded the student Shs35 million in damages, the hospital could not raise the money, compelling bailiffs to swing into action.

“We have no option but to look at patients die. This ambulance was critical in saving lives,” said Dr Lemukol, who added that the car was actually donated to the hospital by an NGO and technically did not belong to the nursing school. “The nursing school has a bus. I don’t know why they did not go for that, instead opting for the ambulance.”

Br Gunther Narich, the Matany Hospital administrator, said the ambulance was impounded on August 1 in Kampala as he collected blood for the hospital. “They followed me to Kampala and the bailiff demanded for the key from me. When I refused, they towed the ambulance to an undisclosed location,” he said.

Br Gunther said he returned to Napak minus the blood and the ambulance—creating a new crisis since more than 400 patients admitted to the facility need blood.

Ms Monica Nacuga, a mother of two, said she lost her daughter who was expecting, as she was being pushed on a wheel barrow from Kokeris village to Matany Hospital last week.

The Napak LC5 Chairperson, Mr Joseph Lomonyang, faulted the magistrate for the ruling and asked area MPs to follow up the matter. He added that the bailiffs had already placed an advert in newspapers, seeking buyers for the ambulance.

Sixteen mothers die daily in Uganda in child birth, according to statistics, indicating the need for action to curb maternal mortality.