Missing baby: DMC and NMC reports to be out on 15 April

Mon, 14 Apr 2014 Source: Pacas, Idris

On 5th February this year, Madam Suweiba gave birth to a missing baby at KATH. Precisely how a 9-month-old pregnancy turned out into a missing baby remains a mystery to the people of Ghana except to the authorities of KATH. On record, 16 babies were delivered on the said day and out of this number, 5 were ‘declared’ dead representing 31.25 %! Obviously, Allah wouldn’t have done this. Two of the dead bodies were sent to the morgue, whilst the remaining three which included Suweiba’s bouncing baby boy were not.

Suweiba’s missing baby exposed the scandal because the other two mothers, thus far unknown to the public, had evidence that their babies were dead. The Ministry of Health then issued a non-biting 14-day ultimatum to KATH to account for the three babies. However, the posture and diction of the Health Ministry clearly portrayed its partiality right from the onset—to buy time for KATH to hide any evidence of the baby theft and to falsely calm tensions. As expected, the ultimatum expired without any report.

Two clear days later, the Health Ministry released some hazy findings which surprised no one including the Minister herself. Its major findings were two: Suweiba’s baby was born dead and the body incinerated. To the best of my knowledge, the full report remains unpublished but the excerpts which the Health Minister made known apparently to justify her decision rather multiplied her own effort by zero. I said a lot about this issue (See this article: MoH, Where is the final decision on the ‘Missing’ Baby? @ ghanaweb 31/03/2014).

This write-up adds two more evidences that Suweiba’s baby was born alive. The first comes from one of the arguments consistently made by the PRO of KATH in most of the FM stations in Kumasi: Suweiba’s baby was placed on her chest as demanded by medical practices. Merely using common sense, one knows that a newborn baby is placed on the mother’s chest for bonding to occur between the two. Thus, if Madam Suweiba’s baby was stillborn, what was the essence of placing the dead baby boy on her chest? To create a bond between a dead baby and her mother? If so, only in Ghana!

Being inquisitive, I asked a senior nurse at the same hospital—KATH—who said that dead babies are never placed on their mom’s chest. Unmistakably, Suweiba’s baby was born alive and to create a bond between her and the live infant, the baby boy was placed on her chest. It was because of the ‘liveness’ of the baby that the doctor who supervised the delivery never wrote that Suweiba had a stillbirth. Accordingly, KATH produced no death certificate and there is no other record at the hospital that shows that Suweiba’s baby is dead. KATH must be made to produce the baby boy!

The second evidence boils on whether hospitals have the exclusive right to do whatever they want with dead bodies of babies. Whether born alive or dead, a foetus/baby carried to full-term pregnancy is regarded as a human being. And in the event of death, common sense suggests that both the hospital and family of the dead must decide on the fate of the corpse. Medical practices also demand so. Even if we agree with the illogical reports of the Health Ministry and KATH that the baby was stillborn, didn’t it occur to the hospital it has no right to handle somebody else’s corpse the way it wants? This point exposed the hospital!

The hospital claims that a staff mistakenly incinerated the body alongside other medical thrash. But both the name of this unknown staff member and the incinerator used for the burning remain as mysterious as how the live born baby was declared stillborn. The innocent man working at the said incinerator made it clear to Suweiba’s family that the facility was never use for the past five days and remained unused three days after the incident. The authorities of KATH confirmed this point to the Member of Parliament for Suweiba’s constituency—Hon Muntaka Mubarak.

All that KATH said afterwards amounts to quenching fire by spraying it with petrol. For example, in an interview on an Accra-based radio station LIVE FM, the administrator of KATH raised two elementary issues: that many mothers will never like to carry their dead babies home and that patients must also be responsible. Thanks to the FM station which had on the panel women who had had similar experiences. These intelligent women refuted the babyish arguments perfectly. If no other mother would like to carry her dead baby home, Madam Suweiba wants to do that.

Similar to Suweiba’s situation, one of the female panellists said that in her case, there was no record at the hospital, presumably Korle-bu, about her baby although the doctors told her orally that the body of her baby had been either sent to the teaching school or given a mass burial. In either case, no member of her family was informed. Only in Ghana!

On the issue of patients’ responsibility, the women panellists rather showed the administrator how irresponsible his hospital was. Health practices now make it seems an offence to deliver at home even in villages. And to avoid unnecessary congestion at hospitals, health practices also demand relatives of expectant mothers not to troop to hospitals. Logically therefore, in this IT age, the hospital must take the contacts of relatives of mothers for emergency cases. Thus, in Suweiba’s case, the panellists wanted to know whether the hospital did make ANY ATTEMPT to contact any relative of hers. The answer was obviously NO!

Consequently, it was absolutely inhuman for the nurse to forcibly seize the thumb of Suweiba, who was partially unconscious due to the lost 400 ml of blood, to thumbprint a document. GMA must note this point and include it in its apology.

Typical of many Ghanaian professionals, the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) joined the gimmicks with its seemingly most powerful ‘political’ weapon—strike. It threatens striking in solidarity with its members who were disciplined albeit below expectation. The GMA president pointed out that there was no wrongdoing on the part of the doctor and nurse and that investigation will soon prove so.

Despite being bias and one-sided, the rudimentary report issued by the Health Ministry did catalogue clear violations of the Hippocratic Oath. In fact, all the wrongdoings are purely medical. On behalf of himself and that of GMA, the president needs to apologize to the public for his rushing to defend the wrongdoers. Perhaps, GMA did so because all of its members are beneficiaries of the proceeds of such baby sales.

The Ministry took some decisions in the right direction—the CEO of KATH together with the doctor and nurse who obviously tormented Madam Suweiba have been asked to go on leave—although being on salary from taxpayers’ money. Congrats to the Health Ministry! It, however, remains unclear whether this ‘punishment’ is nemetic for people whose negligence led to the DISAPPEARANCE OF THREE BABIES out of which one was evidently born alive. I leave that onto God and the public to decide.

The Health Ministry speciously concluded that the actions of KATH violated the ethics of the medical profession and subsequently referred the matter to the Dental and Medical Council (DMC), and the Nurses and Midwifery Council (NMC). According to the Ministry, these two bodies are to release their reports on Tuesday 15 April. Again, it remains uncertain what new discoveries are yet to be made when every detail surrounding the disappearance of the baby are thus far known. These details show a clear violation of the most basic human right—the right to live. In consequence, the public expects nothing other than the Ministry putting KATH authorities on trial for child trafficking or for baby theft or for any such related offences. Anything short of this amounts to political gimmicking.

Even before the Ministry released its report, it postulated that Suweiba must be compensated if KATH could not produce the body of her baby. Here, the Health Ministry made two howlers. Suweiba and the public want the baby boy alive because he was born as such, and not its body. The Ministry’s failure to prescribe a severer punishment in the event of non-compliance encouraged the baby thieves never to return it. Certainly, KATH can no longer order a baby boy sold and subsequently transported across the Atlantic Ocean to be retuned just like that. Maybe, a threat of execution could have triggered such an order.

Another dingdong issue is the criterion to use to arrive at the compensation package in the event that the Ministry imposes that option on Suweiba’s family. Suweiba didn’t conceive to deliver for another family and then be compensated for that. Using the Melcom disaster in which survivors were given just GH¢1,000.00 each, I wonder how much or what will be given to deservedly compensate a near-menopausal woman for the mysterious disappearance of her baby boy. Worst of all, the very people who caused the baby to disappear are allowed to live freely. Equally of importance is where the package would come from—KATH or the central govt? Either source is the still from the taxpayers’ money.

As a disciplined group of persons, we await the reports of DMC and NMC and what the Health Ministry will eventually say. But never think that this matter will just end like that. In addition to Allah overseeing the matter on behalf of us (the worldly helpless), some sympathizers too are preparing to deal with the issue at the right places and at the right time. God bless Suweiba’s womb with several non-missing babies.

Long live our mothers! Long live Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana!

Idris Pacas: 020 910 15 33 & iddrisuabdulai12@yahoo.com

Columnist: Pacas, Idris