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Born out in the cold

Serafina Silaitoga And Tevita Vuibau
Friday, August 01, 2014

A MOTHER was forced to deliver her baby on a bench outside the Seaqaqa Health Centre after medical officials failed to respond to desperate calls and knocking on their doors.

After the delivery, Ana Maria sat outside the health centre still bleeding and holding her baby in the cold with the umbilical cord still attached.

She arrived at the health centre at 3am on July 15. After medical officials failed to respond to the knocking and calls at the staff quarters by her aunt, she could no longer bear the labour pains and delivered her baby at 3.30am.

She said her aunt, who assisted her with the delivery, wrapped the baby in a warm cloth and advised Maria not to move around because the umbilical cord was still attached and her baby bag not removed.

Ms Maria breastfed her baby while waiting for the nurse and doctor to arrive.

Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma said someone should have been on standby and there would be an inquiry into the matter.

Mrs Maria said while sitting outside in the cold, she and her baby started to shiver and her aunt made another round to the quarters to call medical staff but there was still no response.

She said about 6am a student walked out of one of the quarters and they called out to him. He then alerted the medical staff members.

Ms Maria said when they arrived, the doctor asked her whether she wanted to go to Labasa Hospital or remain in Seaqaqa.

She said she got angry because as a doctor he should know what was best for her and her baby.

She said it was in their best interest that they be transferred to Labasa considering the circumstances surrounding her delivery.

Minister for Health Dr Neil Sharma said it was an error on the woman's part because she could have moved to Labasa or alerted someone in the area.

"Try and understand that if someone turns up at 3.30am and if the staff aren't there, then they need to move on to Labasa or be able to arouse someone in that area," Mr Sharma said.

"There is a police station and there are other civil service facilities to be able to notify somebody to do something rather than hang around and wait.

"So that is an error on her part but at the same time, health centres ought to have somebody on stand-by and we are carrying out our own internal investigations."

Ms Maria's husband Tevita Dutaboto said even if his wife had travelled to Labasa, she would have delivered along the way and the other civil service facilities in Seaqaqa would have been closed at that time.

Mr Dutaboto said something should be done about the attitude of the medical staff members to prevent any repetition of such cases.

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