On May 29, Farouk Bukenya and his wife Saudah Nabakiibi sued government over acts of gross negligence by Mulago National Referral Hospital.
The couple says nine years ago, the health facility allegedly swapped their live baby boy with a dead baby girl, who was not theirs. They are seeking general and punitive damages.
Court records indicate that Dr Asinja Kapuru, the Mulago doctor who allegedly oversaw the delivery process, confessed to having swapped the couple’s baby boy with a dead baby girl after he was pressured by one Sr Goretti Tibifumura to alter the medical records.
The Medical Council found Dr Kapuru guilty of gross professional misconduct.
This lawsuit comes at a time when the High Court is hearing a related case in which another couple, Michael Mubangizi and Jennifer Musimenta, have sued the hospital over denying them access to the medical records regarding the birth of their missing twin child. The couple claims one of their twins, born on March 12, 2012, mysteriously disappeared.
There are many heart-rending stories about baby theft and swaps. For instance, Ms Goretti Kajumba and Mr Samuel Egesa had a live baby girl by caesarean section on December 4, 2012. A midwife later took away the baby to the Intensive Care Unit. After leaving the theatre, Ms Kajumba says she demanded to see and breastfeed her baby only to be told by midwives that the baby had died and that the hospital had buried it. The couple sued the facility in 2014.
At the same facility, Lukia Nadago recently said a stranger disappeared with her newborn baby. A similar case of a stolen baby was also recorded in 2013 after Aisha Nampijja’s baby disappeared.
The number of women who have been aggrieved by the facility, but have returned home silent, could be more than what has been reported in the media. And Mulago, which has been the go-to place for affordable services, has failed to protect new mothers from anguish.
Once in a while, management has “opened investigations” and taken measures, like in the case of Dr Kapuru, who was barred from practicing for two years. On other occasions, management has maintained deafening silence.
Sterner action should be taken against practioners who mishandle cases of birth. One measure could be revoking licences of medical workers implicated in such vices.
It is a pity the hospital does not have a fully functional surveillance system, a proven and effective tool that can help curb the number of crimes and lawsuits the hospital is facing. Hopefully, this will be a priority after the $40 million grand renovation and rehabilitation project is complete.
The issue: Baby theft at Mulago
Our view: Sterner action should be taken against practioners who mishandle cases of birth. One measure could be revoking licences of medical workers implicated in such cases.