A recent case in which two women died while giving birth at Muhima Hospital has reawakened concerns over the quality of care provided for expectant mothers at the facility.
Family members claim that Magdalene Mutuyimana and Beatrice Barakagwira, who both died on December 29, were not attended to by doctors for several hours, despite their serious condition. Interventions came too late.
“She got to the hospital at 7am but was only attended to at 5pm when she started bleeding,” Jean Pierre Ntakiyimana, husband to Ms Mutuyimana, told Rwanda Today.
He said she visited the hospital the previous day, which was her expected date of delivery, but she was discharged because she was not in labour. She returned the following day in the morning in labour.
According to the hospital’s management, an initial assessment of Ms Mutuyimana showed both mother and the unborn baby in fine condition. Although she was supposed to give birth through a caesarean section, she was not on the emergency list.
Ms Mutuyimana’s death, followed by that of Beatrice Barakagwira during that night, caused anxiety, with angry relatives demanding an inquiry into the doctors who were on duty. The police had to intervene to calm the situation.
The director of Muhima Hospital, William Rutagengwa, defended his staff against accusations of negligence saying the two deaths were an unfortunate coincidence.
“It has nothing to do with workers being negligent, both incidents though regrettable are an unfortunate coincidence that happens every now and then during the normal course of operations,” he said.
Muhima Hospital is a specialist maternal referral hospital with 128-bed capacity. It receives 9,000 women every year, with an average 25 women giving birth daily.
The ministry of health said an investigation into the deaths would be launched.
“The investigators will file a report and based on their findings, anyone found negligent will face appropriate action from the medical and dental practitioners council,” said Fulgence Kamali, the interim spokesperson of the Ministry of Health.
The Rwanda Allied Health Professions Council faulted the oversight regime and the recruitment process of health workers.
According to the chairperson of the council, Jean Damascene Gasherebuka, inspections by different councils found some health workers in both private and public health facilities were recruited without any qualifications because of nepotism and corruption.
The ministry of health denied the claims of hiring unqualified workers and said it had not received any reports of malpractice by unqualified staff in public or private health facilities.