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A young woman in her thirties, nine months pregnant, died on April 7 after unsuccessfully requesting a caesarean section at a public hospital in the city of Louga, in northern Senegal. The case has aroused great emotion in the country where the population denounces the lack of resources in the health sector.
The death of a pregnant woman in hospital, after what the local press defined “long agony and denial of treatment”, caused great emotion in Senegal, prompting the Head of State to react and promise “all light” on this tragedy. .
The facts date back to several days ago and took place in a public hospital in the city of Louga, in the north of the country. According to the Senegalese press, the young woman, about 30 years old, married and nine months pregnant, died there on April 7 after asking in vain for a caesarean section. The institution’s staff reportedly refused her request, claiming her operation was unplanned and threatened to kick her out if she persisted.
“Unacceptable” headlines the Senegalese daily Liberation on Monday. According to the media, the young woman waited twenty hours for an operation that never came before expiring, uttering words widely reported on Monday and Tuesday on social media: “Operate me because I don’t know if I’ll still be here tomorrow”. Her baby was not saved.
The director of the hospital, Amadou Guèye Diouf, said on Monday evening that he had “initiated an administrative procedure to clarify the contours of this case. […] and take appropriate measures “. The case still fueled several headlines in the press and online press on Tuesday.
Saying that he learned of this event “with the utmost sadness, President Macky Sall posted a message of” heartfelt condolences to his family “on the social network Snapchat, very popular among Senegalese women, on Monday evening.
Throw “all the light” on this drama
“I have instructed the competent authorities to shed full light on the causes of death to identify all the responsibilities. No non-fulfillment will be tolerated”, added the Head of State, making sure to have the health sector “at heart” and insist “every day to improve the care of the populations “.
The health ministry said it sent missions to the Louga hospital to “find out the circumstances of the death” of the pregnant woman and “identify responsibilities and take appropriate measures,” in a press release on Tuesday evening.
A country with a Muslim majority, Senegal has made significant progress in recent years in the area of women’s rights, as evidenced by the adoption, at the beginning of April, of a “law on the protection of pregnant women”, aimed in particular at to end the widespread practice of firing an employee when she is pregnant.
But the United Nations and rights defenders regularly call on the authorities to do more to end discrimination, including legal discrimination, suffered by women, as well as the violence to which they are regularly subjected.
Serial controversy in hospitals
The Louga tragedy is the latest in a series of tragedies that have occurred in Senegal in the health sector, where trade unions regularly deplore the lack of human, technical and financial resources.
Some have already made headlines, such as the death of four newborns in April 2021 following a fire at the hospital in the city of Linguère, near Louga.
On social networks, many messages denounce the care reserved for patients in public facilities and in particular the delays that push many patients to turn to private sector services, despite a higher cost. “We cannot continue to hold God accountable for our actions,” wrote one woman on Twitter. Another deplores: “What hurts the most is when we Senegalese pretend to find out, terrified, what is happening in this country. Today it is the hospital. Tomorrow, [ce sera] Other [chose]. We will forget and move on to the next controversy. The newspaper has this drama that trivializes everything.
A petition calling for “justice” has already obtained several tens of thousands of signatures, and a march is scheduled for Friday 15 April in Louga in this direction. According to the press, the victim’s husband filed a complaint with the local court on Monday.