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Vila hospital trying to address midwife shortage after baby death

The Vila Central Hospital in Vanuatu. Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

PORT VILA, Vanuatu -December: 10.25pm (RNZI): The medical superintendent at Vanuatu’s Vila Central Hospital says they are still trying to address a shortage of midwives at the hospital.

This comes more than three years after the death of a baby whose mother has just won a Court of Appeal decision on her lawsuit against the hospital.

On November 18 the Vanuatu court found the hospital guilty of negligence in its care of Monique Joseph resulting in her child’s death.

In its ruling the court found midwives’ misunderstanding of the guidelines for monitoring women in labour, compounded by a long delay in the shift-change on the day, resulted in Monique Joseph not being monitored for more than eight hours.

It said it was during this period that her baby died of asphyxiation in a manner which could have been avoided had she been monitored hourly as required.

Medical superintendent Santos Wari said to his knowledge the incident was the first of its kind and measures were being taken to ensure it did not happen again.

“I had an opportunity to talk to the staff and I request their due diligence in working together at all times. Nurses, midwives and doctors to see that patience coming from ante-natal to maternity they continue in the normal expected manner right through to delivery and after delivery, ” Santos Wari said.

Mr Wari said the hospital had also recalled retired midwives to assist with the work load at the hospital while it worked with the departments of health and education to recruit and train more midwives.

It is understood a damages hearing for Ms Joseph was yet to take place before the trial judge.

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