(Bilisummaa, July 6, 2012) Oromo Woman who gave birth on street of Addis Ababa says hospital turned her away.
Kedija Abdullah, a mother of three, gave birth to a baby boy on the streets as she was turned away from St Paul hospital because she was unable to pay for treatment, she said.
Late in the afternoon of last Friday, Kedija went into labor and headed to the state owned St Paul Hospital for delivery. However, as she could only afford the two-birr payment patient card and could not meet expenses for other services related to delivery and gloves, she was turned away from the hospital. As a result, she gave birth to her baby on the roadside across the hospital with the help of a passerby lady and street children from the neighborhood.
Dr Solomon Dabi, Medical Director of St Paul Hospital, told The Reporter that the hospital had never turned away a patient before and every patient who comes to the hospital in an emergency has the right to get treatment.
Kedija was in labor starting from Thursday until Friday afternoon. She did not know which health center to go to and how to go there as she and her family were strangers to Addis Ababa. “Around half past four in the afternoon a policeman took me to St Paul Hospital. However, it couldn’t provide me any service while I was in labor,” said Kedija.
Kedija came to Addis Ababa from Harar, 500 km east of Addis Ababa, with her husband and kids to receive religious alms as she and her family are fasting Ramadan.
“After we paid two birr and got the patient card they told us to take her to delivery room number 22. They asked us to pay for her treatment and to buy gloves, but we told them we came from the streets and we did not have money for any payment,” said a young man who lives on that same street.
Dr Solomon has doubts about the veracity of Kedija’s claims. He said, “We are not sure yet but we suspect that either they freaked out and took the lady when they were told to buy gloves or they took her away for their own reason.”
The street dweller said that though they left her in the delivery room they had to take her out of the hospital as she was in too much pain and not getting any medical attention.
Dr Solomon said that the hospital is investigating the case.”If the professionals who were on duty really turned away the lady, we will definitely take measures.”
A few minutes after Kedija left the hospital the street dwellers who were with her took off their clothes for her to lie down on the ground and she gave birth to her child.
Kedija says she was in too much pain and was unable to express her desire to get treatment. Dr Solomon, however, denies this. “After we heard what happened we brought her to the hospital in an ambulance and offered her full treatment for her and her child. But she refused.”
Hospital sources said though the hospital offered her further treatment, some of its staffs actually pressured her to identify the staff that turned her away, adding they teased her and called her crazy. They said the fact that Kedijja speaks only Oromiffa created a communication barrier.
“Over 85 percent of patients get treatment for free in our hospital. If a patient is told to leave the hospital he/she should not comply with that. We strongly believe that a mother should not die of giving birth,” Dr Solomon said.
The malpractice of some medical professionals and institutions in Ethiopia has been reported in several media. It is to be recalled that the Amharic Reporter published a news story about a pregnant lady who gave birth around four in the morning in June on the streets after she was turned away from a government health post and later a health center.
And two health institutions that provide maternal and child health services, Assegedech Maternal and Children Hospital and the Arada branch of Marie Stopes International Ethiopia, were banned after two women died immediately after giving birth.