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The Flaws of Senegal’s Public Health System

A court sentenced three midwives to a six-month suspended prison term for “failing to assist a person in danger” after a pregnant woman died in a public hospital last month. According to local media, nine months pregnant Astou Sokhna suffered for about 20 hours and begged for a caesarean she never obtained. Three other midwives, also judged on Wednesday, May 11 were acquitted, a decision condemned by the victim’s husband. “These midwives were on duty the day my wife died, so they alone are responsible for what happened, reacted Modou Mboup, Astou Sokhna’s widow, (…) my wife only needed 30 minutes to be saved. If they had assisted my wife properly, she would not have died”. A year of suspended prison sentence for four of the six defendants had been requested by the prosecutors at the end of April. All six health workers have always denied the accusations, according to one of their lawyers, Mr. Abou Abdou Daff. The tragic fate of the thirty four year old woman has moved the entire country, triggered reactions from the Senegalese state and shed a light on the flaws of the public health system. The director of the hospital in the northwestern town of Louga, has since been dismissed and replaced.