Over 20 Malawi police officers descended on Mangochi District Hospital on Friday to control a crowd that was protesting the death of a pregnant woman they alleged died because of negligence by medical staff.
Mangochi Police officer-in-charge Elijah Kachikuwo said irate family and friends of the woman, Grace Macheya, 29, threatened the security of the hospital, patients and staff as they shouted accusations of negligence that led to the death of their kin.
“They chanted songs to the effect that they would rather take their women to traditional birth attendants [TBAs] rather than let them die unattended to in hospitals. The situation was quite tense, with relatives denying hospital staff from touching the body of the woman.
“They ordered staff to leave the body in the corridor rather than the mortuary,” said Kachikuwo.
He said police investigations revealed that the woman, who had a seven-month pregnancy, arrived at the hospital at 1am on Friday with chest pains and died two hours later.
Kachikuwo said Macheya’s relatives claimed she was neglected right from arrival while the hospital said she was given Panado to relieve the pain.
He said the drama began unfolding before 8am when three weeping women arrived at the police station with a complaint that their relative had died because of negligence by medical staff at the hospital.
Kachikuwo said he visited the hospital with the women to gather information on the issue.
“It was really shocking to find the body in the corridor and after negotiations with the relatives, we convinced them to have the body moved to the mortuary. The relatives did not allow any hospital staff to touch the body, only the police.
“Within two hours of our arrival, the hospital premises were besieged by people protesting the death after word spread all over the district. We called for reinforcements to protect the lives of other patients, guardians and staff. The situation later calmed down,” he said.
Kachikuwo said a post-mortem was conducted and police escorted the body to Mpinganjira Village, Traditional Authority Mponda, for burial the same day.
Hospital officials refused to comment on the matter, referring Nation on Sunday to police.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Henry Chimbali confirmed the incident, but said he was yet to get a report on the matter.