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Mother Fails In Health Ministry Baby’s Death Lawsuit

By: Eba Kandovazu

Victoria Kangala, a mother who was suing the health and social services ministry for negligence after her three-month-old baby died after allegedly receiving a vaccine at Black Chain clinic in Katutura nearly six years ago, lost her lawsuit last Friday in the high court.

A ruling was made by Judge Orben Sibeya, who dismissed the matter. Kangala, who hails from Windhoek, wanted the ministry to compensate her N$ 710 000 for the death of her baby, Mwaukange Shifiona. The baby died on 13 January 2015. She testified that, after the baby was vaccinated, she did not want to be breastfed and cried a lot.

Government Attorney Monique Meyer represented the state in the matter, while the Legal Assistance centre represented Kangala.

Ministry insists that the medical staff who attended to the infant acted with care and diligence when administering the vaccine and that it complied with the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.

“The mere fact that a medical treatment was unsuccessful or not as successful as it might have been, or that the treatment administered did not have the desired effect, does not, on its own, necessarily justify the inference of lack of diligence, skill or care on the part of the defendant,” the ministry argued.

A pathologist said in court that the baby died of meningitis and aspiration.

Although the government insists the mother gave consent, she argued that she never once gave consent for the nurses at the clinic to administer the vaccine and that they failed to ensure the vaccine they were administering was safe and would not impact the patient.

She wanted N$500 000 for psychological shock and trauma, N$10 000 for the infant’s burial and N$200 000 for past and future medical expenses in relation to psychological assessment and counselling.

Meanwhile, the ministry still has to answer to a case in which a woman Amalia Festus says her womb was removed without her consent at the Windhoek Central Hospital in 2017.

It is reported that she had gone to the Katutura Intermediate Hospital to give birth, and after delivery by Caesarean section, she was discharged three days later, even though she complained of unbearable pain.

The matter briefly appeared in the Windhoek High Court on Monday, and the ruling is pending.

Meanwhile, the ministry of health is busy investigating two separate incidents in which two babies died last month after receiving vaccines at Eluwa clinic in Ongwediva. The ministry says they are busy investigating to see what the actual cause of the deaths are, and a report is pending.

Eba Kandovazu

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