Mum blames strike for baby’s death
A baby boy and his family have become victims of the bitter battle between government and striking medics.
Mmapula Chaba, a young mother from Old Naledi says her three- week-old son died after no one was available at a clinic to provide medical attention for her desperately sick child.
Chaba, 25, took her baby to Old Naledi Clinic in Gaborone on Tuesday afternoon last week complaining of vomiting and diarrhoea. The baby died later that evening after all she got from a nurse at the clinic was a stamp on the baby’s medical card and instructions to come back in the morning. There was no one to provide medical assistance as the doctors and nurses that were supposed to be on duty that day were on strike.
“The nurse stamped the card and checked his temperature, but then we could not get into the consultation room because there was nobody available to prescribe medication or treatment,” she said
Lamenting the effects of the on-going strike, the baby’s aunt Delani Fani said, “This is immoral. It was just too painful to witness the distraught mother helplessly carrying her sick child back home. She had planned to walk to the Extension Two clinic five kilometres away from her home in the morning with the hope of finding a doctor or a nurse with a heart to help, despite the strike. Tragically the baby died that same night.”
In the morning the family took baby Onkemetse’s lifeless body back to the Old Naledi clinic where he was pronounced dead.
He was laid to rest at Broadhurst cemetery in Gaborone three days later where more heartache and drama for the grieving family followed. Relatives struggled to obtain a grave for the baby since employees of Gaborone City Council ‘s cemetery department were also on strike.
“We found a woman at the cemetery department but she refused to help us and told us that the employees responsible were on strike, and therefore we could not bury that day. We had no choice but to take the body back to the mortuary.
“The following morning we were fortunate to find a functioning employee and we managed to purchase a grave, but when we reached the cemetery we were turned back with the corpse because we had not been issued a grave number and by then the cemetery department was closed for business. We did not have enough money to pay for additional mortuary costs, so we took the body home and sought the help of our council representative who eventually got the police to accommodate the corpse at a government mortuary late at night,” Fani related.
The baby was finally laid to rest on Friday last week.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Health says it has not received any formal complaint regarding this incident from the bereaved family.
“However, we did advise the family to formally lodge a complaint with us so that the incident is investigated and necessary steps taken. We encourage members of the public to use our toll free number 0800 600 740 to report in the quickest manner possible whenever they encounter challenges at our health facilities,” the chief Health Officer in the Public relations office at the Ministry, Doreen Motshegwa advised when responding to a Voice enquiry on the allegations.