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Pregnant woman dies after lengthy wait at a hospital in Homa Bay


Letizia Achieng’, 22, died in Homa Bay. [James Omoro, Standard]

A public hospital is on the spot over the death of a 22-year-old pregnant woman.

Nine-month pregnant Letizia Achieng lived at Sena beach in Mfangano East Location.

She died at Homa Bay County Referral Hospital on Friday morning.

Her family is accusing Mbita Sub-County Hospital of taking a long time to transfer her to a different hospital.

Ms Achieng’s brother-in-law Bernard Ogango said they arrived at Mbita Sub-County Hospital at about 1am on Friday.

She was admitted and her condition seemed to have worsened three hours later.

The medics realised they did not have the medicine she needed and opted to transfer her to Homa Bay County Referral Hospital. However, there was no ambulance to ferry Ms Achieng to the referral hospital located 40km away.

The medics then called for an ambulance from Sindo Sub-County Hospital.


Mbita Sub-County Hospital. [James Omoro, Standard]

Mr Ogango said as the ambulance seemed to delay, he sought a private car from a friend to help ferry Ms Achieng to the referral hospital.

In less than 10 minutes, the friend’s car had arrived, but the medics at Mbita hospital said a private vehicle was unsuitable to ferry the patient. They insisted that Mr Ogango waits for the ambulance, which arrived a few minutes to 6am.

The ambulance driver said the vehicle had no fuel and demanded that the patient’s caretakers pay Sh5,000 beforehand.

“Our hope was renewed when we saw the ambulance arriving at the hospital. But the driver insisted he would not leave until we paid the Sh5,000,” Mr Ogango said.

With few options left, Mr Ogango went back to his friend’s car that the medics had previously said was unsuitable.

“We argued with the ambulance driver for 30 minutes over the fuel issue. I believe Linda Mama insurance covers even the cost of an ambulance. I eventually decided to use my friend’s vehicle because the patient’s condition continued to worsen,” he said.

They went to Homa Bay County Referral where Ms Achieng died 45 minutes later while receiving treatment. Homa Bay County Referral Hospital chief executive Peter Ogola said Ms Achieng died of high blood pressure.

“The patient was brought to our hospital when she was already overwhelmed. Her foetus was already dead,” Dr Ogola said.


Maternity wing at Homa Bay County Referral Hospital. [James Omoro, Standard]

The body was moved to Sindo Sub-county Hospital morgue. Mr Ogango blamed Mbita Sub-County Hospital for the death.

“If the medics knew that the ambulance could not carry the patient, why didn’t they give us an alternative? I later realised the medicine they said they did not have that necessitated the transfer only costs Sh240. It’s sad!” 

Homa Bay County Health executive Mr Richard Muga said a preliminary report shows the family refused to board the ambulance.

However, Mr Muga said a committee will be formed to probe the matter.

“We will investigate the cause of the delay which led to her death. The death is unfortunate,” Prof Muga said.

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