(NY Times Front Page) Maternal Deaths Focus Harsh Light on Uganda

Jennifer Anguko was slowly bleeding to death right in the maternity ward of a major public hospital. Only a lone midwife was on duty, the hospital later admitted, and no doctor examined her for 12 hours. An obstetrician who investigated the case said Ms. Anguko, the mother of three young children, had arrived in time to be saved.

Her husband, Valente Inziku, a teacher, frantically changed her blood-soaked bedclothes as her life seeped away. “I’m going to leave you,” she told him as he cradled her. He said she pleaded, “Look after our children.”

Half of the 340,000 deaths of women from pregnancy-related causes each year occur in Africa, almost all in anonymity. But Ms. Anguko was a popular elected official seeking treatment in a 400-bed hospital, and a lawsuit over her death may be the first legal test of an African government’s obligation to provide basic maternal care.

Read it all.

Print Friendly

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Health & Medicine, Uganda, Women

5 comments on “(NY Times Front Page) Maternal Deaths Focus Harsh Light on Uganda

  1. Bill Cavanaugh says:

    I write from Uganda, where my parish is on a mission trip. This is a terrible story, one that does reflect the reality of much of Uganda.
    A bright light in this dark situation is the work of Dr. Scott Kellermann, who was instrumental in the creation of the Bwindi Community Hospital, a ministry of the Church of Uganda. At the Bwindi Hospital, pregnant women are encouraged to come to the hospital before delivery, when they can receive teaching on post natal health, etc., as well as being on site when labor begins. The program has decreased both infant and maternal deaths significantly in the area.

    It was awesome to be there last week. May God continue to bless Scott and others who work to serve Christ in very difficult situations.

  2. Terry Tee says:

    Thanks Bill. I was struck by the lack of mention of mission hospitals which have done sterling work in many African countries and continue to do so, with high standards (often despite limited resources).

  3. montanan says:

    First of all, no woman “slowly” bleeds “to death” in relation to labor. The uterus receives an inordinate blow flow and exsanguination happens quickly. That is one of the problems.

    A second issue is the ‘brain drain’ on poor and less-developed countries. Physicians (and other professionals) leave their home countries after schooling for further training and/or better paying jobs – draining those poor countries of the bright professionals who would staff hospitals such as the one mentioned in this article and of the results of the huge investment the countries have made to educate them. (To be fair, I don’t know this is an issue in Uganda – it certainly is for many countries, including India and Pakistan, but also some in Africa.)

  4. montanan says:

    I need to clarify – the [i]pregnant or newly delivered[/i] uterus receives an inordinate blood flow (not “blow flow” and only the uterus affected by pregnancy).

  5. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    A single strong injection of oxytocin almost certainly would have saved the woman. On American ranches we keep it around even for cows. In Ugandan hospitals they still use ketamine for anaesthetic, which in America is used only in veterinary medicine and abortion clinics.

    Needless loss of life. If you wish to help change that, you might consider your most generous possible contribution to [url=http://ugandasudanmedicalmission.org/index.html]Dr. Katie Rhoads[/url] who runs what amounts to a mobile medical school in northern Uganda and Southern Sudan.

    She’s a dear personal friend who gave up a very successful surgery practice here in Kansas to serve God’s least and lost in a rather tough part of the world.