The Ministry of Health (MoH) has ordered the board, the management and the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) to, within 14 days, account for five stillborns delivered on February 5, 2014.
The ministry has also ordered the doctor and the midwife who were on duty when a stillborn baby got missing to proceed on leave.
The ministry directed a 58-year-old orderly who is alleged to have caused the disappearance of the body of the baby, together with two others, to be interdicted to facilitate police investigations.
The directives by the ministry were based on a report submitted by a three-member committee, chaired by Dr Afisah Zakariah, the Director of Policy, Planning and Implementation of the MoH, which investigated the stillborn saga at KATH.
At a press conference in Accra Thursday, the Minister of Health, Ms Sherry Ayittey, said the case of the doctor and the midwife had been referred to the Ethics and Disciplinary committees of the Dental and Medical Council and the Nurses and Midwives Council respectively.
The two councils, she said, had been given 14 days to investigate the circumstances that led to the disappearance of the baby and two others and institute appropriate sanctions against the two professionals.
Conflicting report on status of foetus
According to Ms Ayittey, the report established that the doctor and the midwife on duty had recorded conflicting reports on the status of the health of the foetus before it was born.
It also indicated that for five hours when the mother of one of the babies in contention, Madam Suwaiba Mumuni, was at the Labour Ward, the doctor on duty constantly recorded foetal heartbeat “until she was delivered of the baby and the child was stillborn”, while the midwife recorded no foetal heartbeat.
“Such different reports by the doctor and the midwife were indications of lack of efficient communication between the two professionals,” the minister said.
Facts of the case
Expatiating on the report of the committee, the minister said the committee established that there had been 16 deliveries at the Labour Ward of KATH, out of which five were declared stillborn.
Three of the babies, including the one born to 42-year-old Madam Suwaiba Mumuni, which were all delivered at dawn, were said to have been placed in a wooden box for collection by the mortuary attendant in the morning.
The orderly who was on duty that evening, according to the report, was said to have sent the wooden box containing the bodies of the three babies to the hospital’s incinerator for cremation.
The minister said five stillborns out of 16 deliveries did not speak well of the hospital.
She, therefore, called on the hospital to do more towards the reduction of maternal deaths.
The minister said the MoH would leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of the case.
Purpose of incinerator
The committee, however, could not fathom why the orderly would send the bodies to the incinerator originally used for burning limps, needles and other hospital waste.
When queried further by the committee, the orderly said he had left the box containing the bodies in front of the incinerator.
However, he had earlier told the committee that he rather sent the box to the incinerator and did not hand it over to any specific person.
The account of the orderly was contrary to the committee’s findings after it had inspected the incinerator.
During the inspection, it found that the incinerator had not been used for some time.
Additionally, according to the report, a search through the hospital mortuary records did not show any recordings of the death of the babies and any box containing the stillborns.