Senegalese midwives tried for the death of their mother

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Six midwives have been tried in Senegal following the death of a pregnant woman and her unborn child in a public hospital in a case that caused a national outcry.

They are accused of failing to assist a person in danger.

Astou Sokhna died last month after spending 20 hours in labour.

Her pleas for doctors to perform a caesarean section were ignored as it had not been planned in advance, local media reported.

The lawyer for the six accused women said his clients felt victimized. In recent weeks, health workers have gone on strike in defense of midwives, saying they should not be prosecuted.

Ms Sokhna, who was in her 30s, was nine months pregnant when she went to hospital in the northern city of Louga.

But the hospital refused her request for a caesarean section on the grounds that the operation had not been scheduled, and threatened to dismiss her if she continued to insist on the procedure, according to local press. Her husband filed a complaint.

Reports say doctors denied Astou Sokhna’s request for a C-section

Authorities responded to the death by firing the hospital director.

Health Minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sall said it could have been avoided with more vigilance.

Ordering an investigation, President Macky Sall said on social media that “failure will not be tolerated”. The results of the investigation have not yet been released.

The circumstances of the death of the mother and child have sparked an outpouring of complaints on social networks, describing the shortcomings of the public health system.

The strike by the National Association of Midwives and other unions was also linked to demands for better working conditions and the enforcement of wage agreements.

Death during childbirth is one of the leading causes of death in Africa.

In Senegal, the government says rates have fallen in recent years with current figures of around 156 deaths per 100,000 live births, down from 392 four years ago.

The United Nations goal is for countries to have fewer than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030.

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