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Ombudsman report exposes negligence in health sector

PRESENTED THE REPORT—Chizuma

Ombudsman Martha Chizuma has released a report which confirms how negligence by some health personnel leads to women losing their uteri at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre.

The Ombudsman released the report yesterday following a story which Malawi News, The Daily Times sister paper, published on June 9 2018 titled ‘Creation of a barren nation’.

The story released that QECH, every month, registers six cases of teenagers having their uteri removed after developing complications, which include unsafe abortions.

The report quotes a woman who says a foreign object might have been left in her body during an operation at QECH.

“I was discharged after three days. A week later as I was recovering, my wound opened immediately after coughing. When I went back to QECH, I was taken into the theatre for the third time. After the procedure, I was advised by my friend who works at QECH to seek an explanation from the medical personnel as to what they had found in my body when I went into theatre for the third time. I suspect that a foreign object might have been left in my body during the second procedure,’’ she says.

Another woman says she had her uterus removed after her delivery at QECH.

“I was pregnant with my third child. I delivered two of my children through caesarean section. I was doing my prenatal at Machinjiri Health Centre. When my due date was close, I was advised by the medical assistant at the centre that I needed to go to QECH so that the personnel there could schedule a date for my delivery since I had to deliver through caesarean section. I complied and was given a date for delivery.

“I delivered and was discharged. However, while at home, I was not recuperating well in terms of my wound. I was taken to theatre for cleaning. Nonetheless, the situation did not improve. Therefore, I was taken back to the theatre where the doctors discovered that my uterus was septic and had to be removed. This was done. The baby was well but I do not know what happened that led to the removal of my uterus,” she says.

Another woman says her uterus was removed when she was 20 years old at the same facility.

The report on alleged malpractices resulting from removal of uteruses on expectant mothers in public hospitals has outlined loopholes in the health sector, including negligence of health workers.

The report says Health and Population Ministry has failed to provide sufficient members of staff to cater for the needs of obstetrics and gynecology departments in all health facilities, which results in compromised quality service delivery in the country.

The report has also established that there was insufficient ward space, beds and theatres in some central hospitals in the country, resulting in delays in assisting patients and compromises sanitation in the wards leading to increased number of maternal infections.

The report says shortage of ambulances or fuel in most of the health facilities contributes to the delay of transporting emergency gynecology patients to referral hospitals, which at times, results in uterus rupture leading to death.

“Most of the disturbing incidents of hysterectomy are those arising from pure negligence and lack of care on the part of the health personnel. This as it may, only few of such medical personnel are held to account for their misconduct,’’ the report reads.

The report recommends that the ministry and regulatory bodies should discipline all health personnel guilty of acts of misconduct to deter other medical personnel from negligently conducting their duties.

Director of Quality Management and Digital Health in the Ministry of Health, Andrew Likaka, said the ministry would implement the report’s recommendations.

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