What you need to know:
- The organisations believe the cases are a violation of women’s rights guaranteed under Article 43 of the Constitution.
- This pertains to their right to access the highest attainable standard of health, including reproductive healthcare.
A group of human rights’ defenders are calling for justice for maternal deaths caused by medical officers and facilities’ negligence.
In a joint press statement released yesterday, the 18 civil society organisations, among them the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya and the Centre for Reproductive Rights and the Reproductive Health Network, claim that there has been an upsurge of maternal deaths in the last five years, especially amongst women from low economic backgrounds.
“According to Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council (KMPDC), expectant women filed the highest number of medical negligence cases against medics. Specifically, pregnancy-related cases of medical negligence account for 27 per cent of the 1,301 complaints brought to KMPDC since its inception,’’ the statement read.
The death of Rebecca Wangari at Naivasha Level 4 Hospital in Nakuru due to excessive blood loss during delivery this January is one of the cases highlighted by the group. In a media interview, her relatives claimed she died from excessive bleeding during delivery after being ignored by medical staff for 24 hours, despite being in critical condition.
Velma Ochieng,19, a Kenya Certificate of Secondary School Education exam candidate, died in November last year after giving birth at Homa Bay County Teaching and Referral Hospital. Her family blamed her death on negligence by health workers at the hospital.
Maureen Anyango died in September last year at Mama Lucy Hospital after giving birth to twins. A senate committee looking into cases of alleged medical negligence at the facility noted that Ms Anyango’s death could have been avoided had the medical officers acted with speed and professionalism.
Diana Mwikali, a woman with disability who died in March last year during delivery at a private facility in Nairobi. A few days earlier, her water had broken and she booked for a caesarian section despite her blood pressure being high. Disability advocates say that her death was due to negligence.
The organisations believe the cases are a violation of women’s rights guaranteed under Article 43 of the Constitution. This pertains to their right to access the highest attainable standard of health, including reproductive healthcare.
To address the rise of medical negligence in maternal healthcare, the lobbies are recommending that the government hold to account liable medical practitioners and facilities.
Also read: Most medical negligence cases affect mothers
“We also call on the government to demonstrate fidelity to the rule of law and implement landmark court judgments on quality, accessible and safe maternal healthcare and to develop clear guidelines and procedures for implementing the fee waiver system in all public health facilities,” their joint statement reads.
Additionally, they would like the government to implement the 2013 presidential directive that abolished all maternity service fees.