“What really caused the death of my dear wife?” This is a question that constantly haunts Godfrey Kitandwe Wamala, husband to Remmie Wamala Nakintu.
Nakintu, then an employee of Uganda’s Parliament, died at the Kampala International hospital (IHK) maternity wing under what the family regards suspicious circumstances last August. Her last baby, Remigius Wamala, is now 11 months old.
During Nakintu’s funeral service, MPs, fellow staff and mourners were enraged about the unclear circumstances under which she had died. Some parliamentary officials are said to have promised an official inquiry to ascertain whether she was a victim of professional negligence.
“[Almost a year] later, there has been no such inquiry,” Wamala says. “I am suffering, looking after the baby and three other children that my wife left. For the sake of my family and other mothers out there who attend public and private hospitals, I request that this issue not be swept under the carpet. We have a right to know what really happened.”
Wamala, who runs a printing firm in Kampala, believes that issues of alleged professional negligence, in Uganda, are rarely investigated to logical conclusion because aggrieved parties usually fear to speak out.
“Such silence breeds impunity among some service providers. I, therefore, beg the leadership of Parliament and other relevant authorities to rise to the occasion. Their findings will put my mind at peace and also help several hospital administrators to put better measures in place,” he says.
Wamala says that baby Remigius, who suffered brain damage during birth, can neither stand nor do anything that children his age should be able to. During a memorial service for Nakintu at St Luke church in Kibumbiro, Busega, last Sunday, the speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly, Margret Zziwa, also asked Parliament to seriously investigate Nakintu’s death in order to prevent more women dying while giving birth.
“Many women die in labour wards due to lack of professional doctors to attend to them. Some hospitals also lack materials like gloves, cotton wool and drugs which they inject women with immediately after giving birth to prevent bleeding,” she said.
Asked how far the promised inquiry had gone, Parliament’s Public Relations Manager Helen Kawesa said they instructed the committee that deals with children’s affairs to handle the matter.
“They are still investigating all public and private health centres to reduce the maternal mortality rate in the country,” she said.
The Woman MP for Namutumba, Florence Mutyabule, who heads the committee, said they were still looking into why women die while giving birth in private hospitals that seem to have all the necessary facilities. Dr Ben Mukwaya Kiwanuka, from Uganda Medical Council, declined to comment on the matter, saying it was still under investigation.
During the memorial service, about Shs 10m was collected in cash and pledges to start Remmie foundation, a charity that will aid women and children with disabilities.
“The foundation will [build] a church in memory of Remmie, who loved her religion so much, and [support] other projects to fight child and maternal death, which is still a big problem in the country,” Wamala said.
Source : The Observer