three midwives convicted in the Astou Sokhna case

The six accused midwives were heard on May 11 at the court in Louga, north of Dakar. Three were convicted and three were released. This tragedy has sparked a wave of indignation on social networks against the shortcomings of the public health system, provoking reactions even at the highest levels of the state.

(RE) read: Senegal: the death of Astou Sokhna, a 9-month pregnant woman, in the public hospital, causes a wave of indignation

Waiting 20 hours for a caesarean section

Astou Sokhna, married and nine months pregnant, died in Louga hospital on April 1 after what the local press described as a long agony and denial of treatment. The young woman, who according to a civil lawyer was 34 years old, waited for about twenty hours for the caesarean section she was asking for.

The staff reportedly denied her request, claiming her operation was unplanned and threatened to oust her if she persisted.

On 11 May the sentence was pronounced in the presence of the six defendants and many health workers who came to support the colleagues who were indicted.

(RE) see: Senegal: anger over the death of Astou Sokhna, 9 months pregnant

The three suspended women were on duty the night Astou Sokhna was hospitalized, one of their lawyers, Me Abou Abdou Daff, said. The other three were on duty during the day. The prosecution had asked for one year in prison during the April 27 trial, including one month against four of the six accused and the release of the other two.

“We do not know the motivation of the court (to convict the three midwives). We will appreciate eventually appealing”Me Daff added. Present in court at the time of the verdict, Ms. Sokhna’s husband, Modou Mboup, said he expected “another” judgment.

“If we stay lazy, there may be other Astou Sokhna”

“We do not argue, even if our hearts are broken, but we seriously expected another” judgment, he said. “Personally, I’ll stop here. The lawyers (for the civil party) will see if they continue the proceedings”He added.

“We have highlighted what all Senegalese deplore in hospitals. It is a victory. If we stand by and watch, there could be more Astou Sokhna”added the victim’s husband, Modou Mboup, in reference to the allegations “to neglect” aimed at medical personnel. He made it clear that his late wife “kept the appointments, the ultrasound, the analyzes”.

What we wanted, and the court followed us, was a conviction. A civil lawyer, Ameth Moussa Sall

The night of the drama “I took her to the hospital at 9:30 am. Other than the infusion, I didn’t see anything else that was given to her until she died at 5:00 am. If they (the midwives) had done what they had to to do, maybe it wouldn’t have happened like this “, He adds. A civil action attorney, Ameth Moussa Sall, indicated that he was not “disappointed”. “The aim of the civil party was not imprisonment. What we wanted, and the court followed us, was a sentence”.

He indicated that he had filed a new complaint on the same day against the six midwives, a gynecologist from Louga hospital and the management of this same hospital, as well as the State of Senegal for “murder and forgery and use of falsehood”. “We ask that the state be held civilly responsible”He added.

Another scandal in the public hospital

Faced with the uproar caused by the death of Madame Sokhna, Senegalese President Macky Sall had published a message of condolence and was charged with determining responsibilities.

On April 14, the Minister of Health, Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, acknowledged that the death of this young woman could have been avoided with more attention. The hospital director has since been removed and replaced.

(RE) read: State of violence against women in Africa

Another case in a public hospital recently caused a scandal. In Kaolack, in the center of the country, a newborn declared dead on Friday 6 May by a nurse and then deposed in the morgue was then found alive by his father a few minutes later, before dying for good that day, according to the local press. On May 8, the prosecution announced that it had opened an investigation. The nurse was referred to the Public Prosecutor’s Office on the 11th after four days of police detention.

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