Friday, March 18

Laquintinie Incident: Time for Quality Health Care for ALL.

UN Women
Can someone tell the Cameroon government that they have completely missed the point. 

It is one thing to quickly blame a helpless woman for trying to deliver a dying sister’s twins but another to accept the blame as an institution for failing to protect women, ensuring their complete safety, and also that they can access quality health care and services. 

Recently, the Minister of Health;  Mr. Mama Fouda, held a press meeting disclaiming the public views on “medical negligence”, rather blaming the deceased 31 year old pregnant, Ms. Monique Koumate, for not attaining ante-natal (maternity) care. The Minister in his press statement also condemned the amateur surgical procedure of the relation of the deceased in attempt to save the twin, in which he described the act as “barbaric and an attack on the dignity of the body of the deceased”. 

The Governor of the Littoral region, on the other hand also held a press conference, accusing citizens for propagating false information  and that Monique Koumate’s dead is “just an incident like many others”.  

“… people die everyday” he added.

One councillor of the Littoral Council, Hilaire Zippang,  also condemned the act but contrary to previous political views, he blamed the government delegate for misappropriation and negligence in managing such emergency. 

Since the incident that took place on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at Laquintinie that resulted to the death of Ms. Monique Koumate and her twins, there have been series of press meetings held by different government officials and authorities - all blaming the public for spreading the news across various social media portals. 

Investigations are currently going on. In a blog post of Tuesday,  March 15, 2015,  by Solomon Amabo,  he reported that some 20 lawyers took up the case to court, in which they made a “claim” against the Director of the Laquintinie Hospital Jean II Dissongo for “refusing to assist” (Monique Koumate) and “voluntary homicide.

The truth of it all is that -Women’s issues don't get on the government’s priority lists.  Had this been about motionising or writing letter of motions for constitutional amendments that will favour the political regime or elites, it would have become a very important issue and probably there would have been no ‘negligence’. For example, late last year (2015),  when the IMF reported that Cameroon topped the chart of most corrupt nations. It was a serious issue - the government responded immediately, critiquing the validity of the report.

“…It is a very pathetic situation. I remember my experience of 1.30am, 10th March 2006 at the Labour room at the Regional hospital in Bamenda how I almost lost my son due to a careless midwife who spent her time insulting me with all the pains…My son was given birth to with some crazy cough because she did not drain the child well. Thank God I had my mouth with me and I gave it to her. I can imagine the torment she got before eventually dying. Pregnant women need help and education” Ms. Feka Parchibell, founder, Hope for Vulnerable and Orphans. 

“I'm speaking now on behalf of many women and adolescents in rural Cameroon…who have to either trek for very long distances or take motor bikes in such heavy states to get to a health center to put to birth. I'm thinking of those who have delivered children on their way to the hospital. ..labour itself is stress enough on any woman. Why do we still have to die in the course of it?..” says Christelle Bay, Director of Hope for the Needy Association (Hofna), Cameroon

In my opinion,  I strongly feel that the government is missing the point. As usual, they always miss the point when it comes to women’s needs. In same way, they missed the point and we could not achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG ), particularly MDG5.  Where instead of maternal mortality rate to drop over the decades, it significantly increased, from 430 (1998) to 782 (2011) (UNFPA 2011).  

Ms. Monique Koumate’s death speaks clearly about the many barriers most people, especially marginalised and poor women and girls experience accessing quality health care service. It tells the true story on the ground and the realities around women’s reproductive health and rights. Everyday, the statistics tells us that at least 19 woman in Cameroon die either due to child birth or pregnancy related complications.

All these and the many other forms of injustice on women can all end if only our government could commit wilfully in the investment in women’s reproductive health.

Click here to read Wfac's Press Statement