Medical Council of Malawi has launched an investigation into the death of 29-year-old Rachel Symon on December 24, 2020 just after giving birth at Shifa Hospital in Blantyre.
According to Symon’s grandfather, Ziliro Chibambo, she delivered a baby boy successfully but started to lose a lot of blood and it turned out that the hospital did not have blood in reserve to give her.
“This is what happened; my granddaughter started excessive bleeding and she asked for some blood and there was no blood and she started to run out of breath and there was no oxygen and twenty minutes later, she passed away. And just like that, my granddaughter lost her life and left a baby boy,” he said.
Chibambo said as a family they are pursuing the matter further, saying they would like to raise awareness to the citizenry of such unfortunate cases.
“Right before we recovered from that funeral, we have lost another family member and so we have not sat down to precisely map the way forward. The issues that happened, we want to raise them through the right channel, because if what happened, happened right here in Blantyre how about in rural areas?” Chibambo said.
He said when the incident happened, the hospital administrator reached out to Blantyre Police as a matter of enforcing peace and calm at the time.
Blantyre Police spokesperson Augustus Mkhwazi said he was not in office and referred us to Dora Chathyoka who did not pick up our calls.
Commenting on the matter, Medical Council Registrar Richard Ndovie said they are saddened by the loss of the young mother, further saying such a death could be preventable in this day and age.
“We received a complaint from the guardians of the deceased and we have put a team, they are leaving on Monday to investigate. The team compromises members from the Medical Council and a specialist doctor which is standard practice.
“In addition, apart from investigations, we will also do an assessment at the facility depending on what was learnt during the incident. We will interview the practitioners and the complainants and the equipment at the facility to assess the suitability to continue conducting deliveries at the facility. By next week, we will have a picture of how the matter went,” he said.
Ndovie further said the council conducts yearly inspections but due to financial constraints other hospitals were not inspected when they conducted the exercises last year.
“We are supposed to conduct inspections in different hospitals and clinics in the country at least once a year but due to resource constraints, it sometimes takes long. Between September and October last year we conducted an inspection exercise in Blantyre but the city has a lot of clinics, in fact, the highest number of clinics so we only managed to inspect half of them and unfortunately, Shifa was not inspected,” he said.
When we visited the hospital, the administrator, Zishan Balwan, referred us to the doctor [Dr. Makwero] who was on duty that day who, by the time we went to press, was still not available for comment.
In recent years, the country has been implementing several efforts to reduce maternal death.