State fingered in another maternal death

A grieving boyfriend says the nursing staff of a State hospital must be held accountable for the death of his girlfriend this week, who died after giving birth to their baby girl.

Claims of medical negligence have surfaced after a 22-year-old Windhoek woman died on Wednesday after enduring over 50 hours in labour and giving birth to healthy baby girl. Violine Ndjitaviua, who recently completed a diploma in education, died on the same day the First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba launched a N$100 million initiative to prevent mothers dying during labour.

Ndjitaviua’s death also comes at a time when the nation is waiting with bated breath on the findings of the report on the state of the public health sector which was recently handed over to President Hifikepunye Pohamba by an appointed Presidential Commission of Inquiry. Ndjitaviua’s boyfriend Ricardo Tjiuoro is now contemplating suing the State, claiming that medical negligence was at the centre of his partner’s death.

According to Tjiuoro, Ndjitaviua was not properly dilated to give birth even after the more than 50 hours she spent in hospital.

“They knew for a day the cervix is not opening wide enough for her to give birth. They did not come to talk to us about her condition. It is negligence,” an emotional Tjiuoro told Namibian Sun yesterday.
He pointed out that their baby was also too big for her to give birth naturally. Ndjitaviua was petite.
The baby weighed 4,14kg on the day she was born.

Describing the events that transpired, Tjiuoro said that they arrived at the hospital around 03:00 on Saturday at which stage she was dilated 1cm. By Sunday afternoon, her cervix had dilated further to 5cm, Tjiuoro said. “The doctors told us that she would probably give birth at 20:00 that night. She was in very much pain. The time came and went but still she did not give birth.”

At midnight Sunday, Ndjitaviua reached 8cm in dilation and at that stage the doctors told her to walk around a bit to relieve some of the pain. A few hours later, Tjiouro said, a doctor came to check on her and the baby’s heartbeat. She had reached 9cm and “the doctor told us that he would be back in 30 minutes, but never showed up again. We waited for two hours until we finally had to tell the nurses to call another doctor who took her to the labour room.”

Ndjitaviua gave birth at 05:52 on Monday morning to a baby girl. When the family was informed about the birth, Tjiuoro wanted to know where the mother is.

“They told me the mother is doing fine, she finally gave birth,” he narrated. After going home for a few hours to rest he returned to the hospital only to see Ndjitaviua being rushed to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

According to him, she had lost too much blood during birth.

“They knew that the baby was too big, but they forced her to give birth (naturally). The cervix was not even opening.”

After spending three days in ICU - from Monday to Wednesday - Ndjitaviua died on Wednesday evening. Their baby girl was named Mbitjitandjambi, loosely meaning ‘what God wanted’.

Tjiuoro said he was now considering legal steps against the hospital. This was Ndjitaviua first pregnancy.

According to medical experts, normally the cervix needs to open about 10cm for a baby to pass through.

This is called a ‘fully dilated’ level. In a first labour, the time from the start of established labour to full dilation is usually between six and 12 hours. It is often quicker for subsequent pregnancies. Established labour is when a cervix has dilated to more than 3cm.

When the hospital was approached for comment yesterday, Namibian Sun was informed to send questions to the office of the ministry of health’s permanent secretary. And by the time of going to print, no answers were yet provided.

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