Ministry settles with distraught mother

Jana-Mari Smith
Jana-Mari Smith
The health ministry has agreed to pay close to N$1 million to settle a N$2.7 million lawsuit brought by a woman whose newborn died during an alleged bungled delivery at the Windhoek State hospital five years ago.
Selma Uukule, supported by the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) sued the ministry last year following a traumatic delivery in May 2017, during which her son died and she developed sepsis and was left permanently scarred in the aftermath.
The signed and final settlement agreement stipulates that the defendants, listed as the government of Namibia, the health ministry and Dr Agnes Ndaningina, will pay N$900 000 to settle the matter.
Payment will be concluded within ninety days. The High Court has been asked this week to make the settlement an order of the court.
Court filings alleged that after Uukule presented to the Windhoek Central Hospital maternity ward at nine months pregnant in the early stages of labour, a senior doctor noticed that her child was in distress and instructed another doctor to prepare Uukule for an emergency caesarean section surgery while he dealt with another emergency case.
It was alleged the physician did not follow instructions, but “continued with her own efforts to have the plaintiff give birth naturally”.
When the senior physician returned, Uukule was lying in a “pool of blood with the doctor standing over her. He at once ordered the plaintiff to be taken to theatre as per his previous instruction,” the court was informed.
Uukule’s baby passed away shortly after his delivery.
Uukule was released from the hospital on 1 June, despite allegedly still complaining about stomach pain. She alleged in court documents that her request for a sonar “fell on deaf ears”.
On 5 June 2018, she was taken back to the hospital in an ambulance, after her condition worsened.
Following emergency surgery, she was informed she had developed sepsis, and as a result “a portion of Uukule’s stomach” had to be removed.
Uukule’s lawsuit claimed that the doctor who ignored the senior physician’s instructions, was negligent, and unlawfully and forcefully tried to pull the baby from Uukule’s body “for a prolonged period of time without any regard for human life”.
Uukule argued that the doctor was guilty of medical negligence which resulted in the “gruesome death of the minor child”.
The health ministry in their filings at first denied any wrongdoing in the matter, before agreeing to the settlement.