FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday 22nd March 2021

Kampala – Uganda. Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) will today file a report at the High Court [Civil Division], regarding Mulago National Referral Hospital’s progress on improving safety in handling babies delivered at the facility.

The report documents the steps Mulago hospital has taken, which include;

  • Installation of security cameras in maternity wards to monitor the movement of babies
  • Placing security guards at the entrance of the Hospital to register people entering and exiting the hospital
  • Tagging newborn babies to their mothers for easy identification.
  • Establishing a compassion ward where mothers who have lost the babies receive counselling services

Background

On 24th January 2017, the Honourable Lady Justice Lydia Mugambe Ssali delivered a landmark judgment in High Court [Civil Division] Civil Suit No. 212 of 2013. In the suit,CEHURD, Micheal Mubangizi and Jennifer Musimenta sued the Executive Director of the Mulago National Referral Hospital and Attorney General, challenging the systemic gaps in the health care system, which resulted into the loss/ disappearance of Micheal Mubangiz and Jennifer Musimenta’s baby.

On 14th March 2012, Jennifer Musiimenta went to Mulago hospital with labour pains and delivered a set of twins on the same day. One of the babies mysteriously disappeared. The Hospital informed her and her husband that the second baby was born dead but could not produce the dead body. Eventually, on 17th March 2012, the Hospital gave the couple a dead body. The couple, however, rejected the body because it was of a baby who had just died.

Later, DNA examination confirmed that the body did not belong to their baby. The couple were aggrieved that their baby had disappeared in the hospital and they were denied information relating to their baby. The couple and CEHURD took Mulago hospital to Court for the unlawful disappearance of their baby, demanding that the hospital surrender their baby, dead or alive. In addition, they sought several declarations and orders from court.

The Court found that the failure of Mulago hospital to account for Micheal and Jennifer’s baby subjected them to psychological torture. Additionally, this was a violation of their right to be free from cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, and the right to health. These rights are recognised under Objectives XX, XIV (b) and Articles 24, 44 and 45 of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and international human rights instruments.

Filing the report

In addition to these findings, the Court ordered that Mulago hospital award Michael and Jennifer compensatory damages, and CEHURD should file a report to the Court on the implementation of the Judgment. This is the report that CEHURD is filing today.

We applaud the hospital for complying with the orders of the Court after a series of engagements. We also call upon all healthcare facilities in Uganda to put in place reliable and credible systems that ensure the proper handling and movement of babies from the point a pregnant woman is admitted up to the point she is discharged from the health care facility.

We also call upon anyone who has suffered a maternal health rights violation to reach CEHURD on our toll free line 0800 300044 to pursue justice.

For more information contact: info@cehurd.org and copy in nsereko@cehurd.org or call our toll free line 0800 300044.

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