Phophi, fire these rogue health staff

Grieving Sandra Phoku and her aunt Elizabeth Manganye moments after pathologists fetched the baby's body.
Grieving Sandra Phoku and her aunt Elizabeth Manganye moments after pathologists fetched the baby's body.
Image: PETER RAMOTHWALA

Do public health workers know that their job is to save lives?

Another pregnant woman gave birth in the street on Tuesday after she was turned away twice from a clinic. When six months pregnant Sandra Phoku felt pains in her stomach, she quickly rushed to Marulaneng Clinic, outside Marble Hall in Limpopo, but she was sent back home to get her file card.

She said she begged the security guard to allow her in as she was in pain but she refused. Phoku said she then embarked on a kilometre-long walk back home, only to return and be told that there was nobody to help her as it was 5pm and nurses had knocked off.

She and her mother, who had accompanied her to the facility, then waited for hours outside the clinic for an ambulance to take her to hospital.

Phoku eventually gave birth in the street around 9pm. That was when nurses were called by the guard to come and assist her. But sadly, her baby died shortly afterwards. It is shocking that this woman spent hours waiting for help while medical practitioners were inside the premises sleeping.

Why was she not assisted for about four hours while she waited for an ambulance outside the facility?

Is knocking off at 5pm more important than saving a life?

To make matters worse, the ambulance arrived hours after the baby's death and could not assist Phoku with transporting the body to a nearby mortuary.

She was told to take the body home, and spent the rest of the night with a dead baby until it was picked up by a pathology van the next day. Spending the rest of the night with the body must have been awful and further traumatised the mother.

One would expect health officials to understand this, but they saw nothing wrong in telling the woman to take her dead baby home. Sowetan has reported two other cases where pregnant women were turned away from public clinics this year and ended up giving birth outdoors.

How many more lives must be lost before harsh action is taken against negligent health practitioners?

We call upon MEC for health in Limpopo Phophi Ramathuba to ensure that all those involved in Phoku's case face the music.

These workers must hang their heads in shame for their poor treatment of this woman.

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