The Civil Division of the High Court has ordered Mulago Hospital to pay 50 Million shillings to a 47-year-old woman as compensation for psychological torture and trauma she suffered when she lost her baby.
In his ruling, Justice Phillip Odoki observed that the failure of Mulago Hospital to give Nakayima her baby after birth and provide her with information concerning the whereabouts of her baby, dead or alive is a violation of her rights to health under Article 45 of the Constitution and other International Human Rights Instruments.
In 2016, Nakayima and the Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) sued the Executive Director of Mulago Hospital together with the Attorney General seeking orders that the hospital surrender her baby dead or alive. They also wanted damages for the violation of her human rights and those of her child. They stated that failure to give information on the whereabouts of her child subjected her to psychological torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.
According to Nakayima, she went to Mulago Hospital to deliver, where after a cesarean, she was told that her baby boy measuring 3.5kg had lived for a short while and died. However, she was never been shown the body. She said that they tried to engage the Hospital Director for a response but in vain.
In his judgment, Justice Odoki emphasized that Nakayima suffered terrible psychological torture which affected her mental well-being and was a violation of her right to health because all her efforts to secure her baby after delivery, dead, or alive were futile.
Dorothy Amuron, CEHURD’s Acting Director of Programmes welcomed the ruling that underscores the importance of safety in public health facilities in Uganda. She said that Nakayima’s case is the fourth that CEHURD has handled.
Nakayima narrates that when she regained consciousness, she asked about the baby but was informed by a health worker that she had given birth to a baby boy who weighed 3.5 kg but died shortly after birth. When she asked for the body of the baby, she was informed that it could not be traced.
Amuron implored the government to put in place a mechanism that ensures the effective tracing of newborn babies from the point of delivery to the point of departure from the health facility, noting that this case implies that public health facilities are accountable for any loss of a newborn child.
This is not the first time that the Courts of law have ordered Mulago Hospital to pay damages for a missing child. In 2012, a couple Jennifer Musimenta and Michael Mubangizi sued the hospital after their child went missing at birth, and days later, the hospital reportedly gave them a baby who had just died.
However, the couple went ahead to do DNA tests which confirmed that the body was not of their child. Justice Lydia Mugambe in 2017 ordered the Hospital to pay the couple 85 million shillings following a successful case filed on behalf of the couple by CEHURD