Senegal: Three Midwives Convicted Over Death Of Pregnant Woman

Chukwuebuka Festus
People demonstrate during a sit-in to demand justice for Astou Sokhna and call for a more humane and patient-friendly health care system at the Place de la Nation in Dakar

Three Senegalese midwives involved in the death of a woman in labour have been found guilty of not assisting someone in danger.

They received six-month suspended sentences, after Astou Sokhna, died while reportedly begging for a Caesarean. Her unborn child also died.

Three other midwives who were also on trial were not found guilty

The case caused a national outcry with President Macky Sall ordering an investigation.

Mrs Sokhna was in her 30s when she passed away at a hospital in the northern town of Louga.

During her reported 20-hour labour ordeal, her pleas to doctors to carry out a Caesarean were ignored because it had not been planned in advance, local media reported.

The hospital even threatened to send her away if she kept insisting on the procedure, according to the press reports.

Her husband, Modou Mboup, who was in court, told the AFP news agency that bringing the case to light was necessary.

“We highlighted something that all Senegalese deplore about their hospitals,” AFP quotes him as saying.

“If we stand idly by, there could be other Astou Sokhnas. We have to stand up so that something like this doesn’t happen again.”

Read Also: Senegal: Health Workers Strike Over Death of Pregnant Woman

A lawyer for one of the convicted midwives said his client is considering an appeal, AFP reports.

“The accused have denied and continue to deny [the accusations],” it quotes Abou Abdou Daffas saying.

“A medical team has the duty to respond with what is available, not to provide the outcome,” he continued.

In the lead up to the trial health workers went on strike, saying that the midwives should not be prosecuted.

The director of the hospital was dismissed after the incident, and has now been replaced according to AFP.

The circumstances of the deaths of the mother and child sparked an outpouring of complaints on social media with people describing the deficiencies of the public health system.

Death during childbirth is a leading cause of mortality in Africa.

In Senegal, the government says that rates have been falling in recent years with current figures around 156 deaths per 100,000 live births – down from 392 four years ago.

The UN goals are for countries to have fewer than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030.

Source: BBC

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