By Serunjogi Francis and Guma Jeremiah
Yesterday April 11, 2013, the High court of Uganda started hearing a maternal health case filed by the Center for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) & others against Nakaseke District Local Government and the Attorney General.
On 12th April 2012 the Center for health, Human rights and Development (CEHURD) dragged Nakaseke District Local government to court challenging the way Nanteza Irene died in labour pain despite crying for almost 10 hours without any medical attention accorded to her.
This case follows a landmark maternal health case that was filed by CEHURD in the Constitutional court of Uganda in March 2011 (Constitutional Petition No.16 of 2011). The justices in that case advised the petitioners to seek other remedies in other courts of law.
By the time of this ruling (June 2012) CEHURD had already filed this case and had never been fixed for hearing. It is on record that 16 women die in Uganda daily and the more cases are delayed in courts the more women that die.
CEHURD is thus calling upon the High court to give a declaratory judgment that the acts, omissions and behaviors of the health workers and the local government towards Nanteza Irene (deceased) leading to her death violated her rights to life, to health, freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment and equality and that of her children.
“It’s the justices of the court that can end the preventable maternal deaths by according justice where it’s due. We cannot continue to see the injustices of women dying from preventable maternal deaths. We call upon the government to recruit, allocate and motivate health workers as well as supply necessary basic maternal health commodities in the health facilities as part of their Human rights obligations” Said Mulumba Moses, Executive Director of CEHURD.
The leading causes of maternal death in Uganda include massive shortage of trained, motivated and equitably deployed professional health workers to attend to births, lack of access to emergency obstetric care, lack of access to quality antenatal care, and lack of access to family planning services, hemorrhage, sepsis and above all lack of a political will to priotize the right to health..
Court will next hear the case on 17th May 2013 as counsel for the plaintiffs sought an adjournment to file a joint scheduling memorandum since the defendants had not signed the one that was prepared and hence wasn’t filed in court on time. His Lordship Justice
Benjamin Kabiito the judge handling the matter advised the parties to do a scheduling and file the same in court by 30th April 2013 such that on 17th May they come ready to proceed as he will not entertain unnecessary adjournments.
For more information, contact: Noor Nakibuuka, CEHURD, +256782496681