Health ministry faces lawsuit over infant death

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

A lawsuit has been filed against the Ministry of Health and Social Services following the death of an infant at the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital.

The parents, Roman Joachim and Jakob Ndafenongo, are demanding justice for the loss of their baby girl, Suama Ingashipola Ndadenongo, who was born on September 18, 2022, and passed away on November 9, 2022.

Joachim, and Ndafenongo, are seeking a total of N$3,760,080 in compensation for their child’s death, alleging negligence and wrongful conduct by medical personnel involved in the care of the mother and child during labour and delivery.

The parents are alleging the child’s death resulted from complications arising from the birth process. The plaintiffs argue that the medical personnel responsible for the mother’s care during labour and the delivery of the baby failed to provide proper medical attention, leading to the tragic outcome. The parents have claimed N$2,885,000 and N$875,000 respectively for pain and suffering, for emotional shock, psychological trauma, mental anguish and distress, discomfort suffered and still suffering, impairment of bodily integrity and psychological integrity, future medical and psychological counselling expenses, past loss of income a future loss of income.

The emotional suffering and distress they’ve faced due to their child’s death

Additionally, they have jointly submitted a claim of N$80,000 for the funeral expenses.

In the particulars of claim filed at the Oshakati High Court, the parents are citing several defendants, including the Minister of Health and Social Services, the superintendent of the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital, and several medical practitioners who were allegedly responsible for the care of Joachim during her pregnancy and childbirth. They claim that the medical staff at the hospital was negligent and failed in their duty of care towards the mother and the baby. Defendants and other medical personnel and medical practitioners, negligently and or wrongfully and or unlawfully failed in their duty to take reasonable care, attempt to, where possible, keep babies born at the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital alive alternatively to give medical assistance and care to mothers admitted to the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital whilst giving birth to their children, to take preventative action to prevent vaginal births where complications, concerns and high risk factors are noted in the patient’s hospital record, to ta
ke preventative action to prevent injury to babies resulting in their death and to record information on the hospital record what the patient tells him or her,” Joachim alleged.

They further accused the medical personnel of not taking immediate action in response to warning signs of distress during the pregnancy and delivery. The parents further allege that despite Joachim’s high-risk pregnancy status, medical staff allegedly ignored signs of fetal distress and other concerning factors, leading to the death.“The fetal heartrate showed poor viability on the cardiotocography even after giving one litre of Ringer’s Lactate. A nurse made a note of a possible Bandl’s ring, a nurse made a note that there is a possibility of fetal macrosomia and a nurse made a note that an emergency caesarean section may be needed,” read the claim. The case is being heard in front of Judge David Munsu and is scheduled for status hearing on 12 September 2023.

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