“Our Lyantonde hospital has become a place where our people are going to perish from. Today women fear to visit that hospital because no pregnant woman goes there and returns home alive."
By Deusdedit Ruhangariyo
“Our Lyantonde hospital has become a place where our people are going to perish from. Today women fear to visit that hospital because no pregnant woman goes there and returns home alive. People have reported cases to police, to the local council leadership, but nobody seems to mind. It has become a death trap for our mothers.”
Those are the words of Jossy Nuwabine, the executive director of Kabura Agency for Development.
I heard him saying those words while contributing to a Radio West talk show Manya Ebirikufa omu ihanga ryawe (Know what is happening in your country).
As a health journalist, I was dumbfounded when I heard those words. I later requested him to go with me to Lyantonde to talk to the friends and relatives of those people who were affected by what he was saying so that I could expose the culprits and cause the government to act.
After agreeing on a date we met in Lyantonde town and off we went deep into Lyantonde villages to look for people to talk to.
What I later found out was shocking. In fact, I trembled after one lady narrated how her daughter died, and I was yet to hear more alarming tales of apparent negligence at Lyantonde government hospital.
Please continue reading and see how our mothers are dying needlessly at the said hospital:
Niwagaba Joanita Kabaana, 36, died because of lack of stitches
According to Jenipher Naturinda, her older sister Kabaana was in labour so she went to Lyantonde hospital on the 1 October to give birth. She was told she was going to need a caesarean section. The next day she was taken to the theatre to be operated on. But after the medical doctor finished the operation and removed the baby he realised he did not have enough stitches to close the uterus. The doctor asked Yonah Niwagaba, Kabaana’s husband, to go to a shop in Lyantonde town to get the stitches but he could not find the ones that are used in theatre.
After failing to get the stitches, Naturinda says the doctor simply stitched on the abdomen and left the uterus open then brought the woman in the ward. She bled to death after a few hours.
Kabaana’s relatives are still asking questions such as how can a trained and qualified medical professional go to theatre without all the necessary materials? Was it a case of there not being enough stitches at the hospital or did the doctor simply not bring enough with him?
Naturinda and other relatives reported the case to Lyantonde police. The police arrested the said doctor and later released him. The police made a report, which this writer saw, stating that Kabaana may have died because it was her first pregnancy (prime gravida). But I went to Nyakahita, Nyakashashara in Kiruhura district to talk to Kabaana’s husband who says that his wife had three children before. I saw an album picture of the late Kabaana with the said children. The story that his wife may have died because it was her first pregnancy is a pure lie.
What annoys the relatives more is that the doctor who operated on Kabaana was arrested and later released because there was ‘no evidence’ implicating him for any wrong doing.
The relatives of the late Kabaana are still demanding justice. They said that they would like to see thedoctor re-arrested and the law to take its course.
Loyce Nimusiima, 25, died after giving birth
Loyce Nimusiima died at a tender age of 25. She gave birth normally at Kitazigorikwa Health Centre II on Christmas Eve (24 December) last year. After delivery, the placenta proved difficult for Nimusiima to deliver.
The medical personel at Kitazigorikwa immediately advised for Nimusiima to be rushed to Lyantonde hospital where there were facilities to remove it.
Jovia Nankunda, Nimusiima’s elder sister, rushed her to Lyantonde hospital. But, on reaching there on 25 December, discovered there was no doctor on duty. Nankunda says they called one doctor who they knew and he told them he couldn’t go back because he had already left for Christmas.
“When we got the negative reply from the first doctor, we called another one who refused to pick his call,” Nankunda adds.
It is at that juncture that the nurses present at Lyantonde advised her to call a private doctor. The private doctor accepted to help on condition that they pay him 30,000 shillings.
The private doctor did come but unfortunately the patient had become too weak. Nankunda says that after the placenta was removed a nurse put her on drip but before the first bottle of drip water was over, the patient started foaming at the mouth.
Nankunda rushed into another room to tell the nurses and call for help but alas she came back to find her sister already dead.
When this reporter went to Lyantonde hospital to cross check this information, Dr. Obbo Okoth, the director of health services in Lyantonde district who is also the medical superintendent of the same hospital, said: “I am not aware of that case, and besides, I am the one who is always on duty on such big days.”
However, hospital administrator Saidi Kyeyune gave us a different story. Kyeyune said Nimusiima was brought to the hospital on Christmas day last year. The nurses on duty examined her and discovered they didn’t have any blood that matched hers. After the nurses found this out Kyeyune says the doctor recommended that the woman be transferred to Mbarara referral hospital.
However, this information is refuted by the relatives of the deceased as untrue . They say there was no doctor at the hospital. One thing is certain: the hospital administrator and the superintendent are disagreeing. One says the patient was never brought to the hospital and the other says the patient was there but was referred to another hospital.
Jane Katungi, the mother to the late Nimusiima, appeals to the government to take responsibility for its citizens. She says there should be a thorough investigation of all alleged cases of negligence at the hospital.
Kedureesi Kyarikunda’s baby died on the hospital’s verandah
Another case is about Kedureesi Kyarikunda from Kyamparagata, Kalagara, Katovu-Marongo in the new district of Lwengo.
She says she went to the hospital on the 25 May this year because she knew her day to give birth was almost due.
“When I reached at the hospital I told the nurses that I was feeling labour pains but they didn’t mind at all. I remained at the hospital for two days and on the second day I gave birth from the verandah. But because there was nobody to help me the baby swallowed blood and died,” she narrates with tears flowing down her cheeks.
Agness Nabakooza died with her unborn child
On this fateful day Agness Nabakooza had gone to give birth at a private hospital belonging to one of the senior medical doctors from Lyantonde hospital. This doctor also handled the majority of cases mentioned in this article.
When Nabakooza, accompanied by her mother and husband, reached the private hospital the doctor examined her and declared that the unborn child was already dead.
After the pronouncement the doctor left the place and went to do other things. In the meantime the health of Nabakooza was deteriorating. Her mother, whom I talked to, says the doctor returned in the evening and charged them 30,000 shillings to write for them a referral letter to take the patient to Lyantonde hospital.
But Nabakooza’s mother says when she they reached Lyantonde hospital the doctors examined the pregnant woman and declared her dead.
Kitalimanywa Kamaali died ‘because of a piece of cloth left in her uterus’
There are many other cases like that of Kitalimanywa Kamaali, who relatives say died because a doctor operated on her and left a piece of cloth in her uterus. I talked with the father of Kitalimanywa who said they even displayed the cloth at the burial. But his wife was uncomfortable with the press and refused to let me take pictures of their family members. She said if she did they would face it rough the next time they visited the hospital because the same doctor is the one they would find there.
There are many cases like the above that go unreported at the hospital. I talked to women in all the six villages that I visited and they said they are worried because of what is happening at Lyantonde hospital.
“When we get pregnant, we start trembling because we think that we have started our last journey,” one woman, Jessica Aine, said.
The population in Lyantonde and surrounding districts who use the hospital demand that government intervenes into this matter to save our mothers.