A civil suit for alleged negligence leading to the death of a newborn baby has been set down in the High Court of Namibia for a four-day hearing in June.
The mother of the newborn Peelina Nghikumwa is suing the Minister of Health and Social Services for N$565 000 after her baby died as a result of alleged negligence at the Engela State Hospital in 2017.
The case was heard in the High Court yesterday by Judge Herman Oosthuizen who postponed the matter to June.
According to court documents, the baby fell on its from the mother’s womb and the umbilical cord broke in the maternity ward after the mother tried several times to get the help of a nurse, who allegedly blatantly ignored her pleas for assistance.
This was confirmed by a postmortem performed shortly after the baby’s death, which revealed that the newborn had died as a result of a head injury allegedly sustained during the fall.
Nghikumwa in her statement says that she doesn’t know what her child would have done for her, but she knows that due to the “negligence and attitude” of the doctors and nurses at the Engela State Hospital, she lost her baby.
“I tell myself that had it been a natural death it would be understandable but it is due to pure negligence and I feel extremely saddened and livid for the lack of care in their duty and that my child is not here,” she grieves.
She further vents that her rights were “violated”, thus she wants the people responsible to be held accountable for the violation of her and her newborn daughter’s rights.
Witness statements from three nurses on duty at the time, Jovita Naimbangu, Foibe Heita and Veronika Shangelao tell a completely different story from that of the mother surrounding the death of the baby.
All parties recollections agree that the infant was delivered from the mother’s womb and found on the floor. The infant was not crying and was later diagnosed as dead.
The Ministry of Health and Social Services claims ignorance of any of the allegations and claims of the mother, saying its “employees carried out the required procedure with such professional skill as is reasonably expected under the prevailing circumstances, alternatively according to the standards that may reasonably be expected of the defendant … in similar circumstances”.
In addition the nurses witness statements respectively state that they had attended to the mother several times since the start of their shift.
The three nurses indicated that she was sitting on the bench outside the delivery room as she was “tired of being in bed”, while she says she was advised by the nurse to “take a walk”.
Nurse Heita states contrary to Nghiikumwa’s statement that she “advised the woman to mobilise within the labour room in order to stimulate contractions and to go back into her bed immediately when contractions get stronger or membranes rupture” .
She further states after having examined Nghiikumwa, she found that the cervix dilated and that “the mother was instructed to strictly stay in the delivery bed”.
They all state that they rushed to her aid when they heard her scream that the baby is coming. Nurse Shangelao alleges that she told her to move to the bed and on the mother replying she can’t reach it she was then told to kneel down.
At that point the membranes ruptured and the baby was delivered on the floor without a cry.
Nghikumwa is represented by Advocate Sharen Zenda from the Legal Assistance Centre and the state by Lindrowski Tibinyane.