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Outrage in Senegal after tragic death of pregnant woman in hospital

The death in hospital of a pregnant woman, after what the local press has presented as a long agony and denial of care, has sparked a lot of emotion in the Senegalurging the head of state to respond and promise “all the light” about this drama.

The facts go back a few days and took place in a public hospital in the city of Louga, in the north of the country. According to the Senegalese press, Astou Sokhna, in her thirties, married and nine months pregnant, died there on April 7 after unsuccessfully requesting a cesarean section.

Read also In Kédougou, in southeastern Senegal, the challenge of access to health care for all

The establishment’s staff reportedly refused her request, arguing that her surgery was unplanned, and threatened to kick her out if she insisted. “Unacceptable! † headlined Monday 11 April in “one” the newspaper Edition

According to the media, the young woman waited twenty hours for an intervention that never came before she expired while uttering words that were widely circulated on social networks Monday and Tuesday: “Operate me, because I don’t know if I’ll be here tomorrow. † Her baby was not saved.

Discrimination against women

The director of the hospital, Amadou Guèye Diouf, said Monday evening that he “started an administrative procedure to clarify the contours of this case”and take appropriate action.”† The case fed several “ones” from the written and online press on Tuesday.

say to have “It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of Mr.me Astou Sokhna in hospital »President Macky Sall released a message Monday evening: “Sincere condolences to his family” on the social network Snapchat, very popular among Senegalese women.

“I have instructed the appropriate authorities to shed full light on the causes of death in order to pinpoint all responsibilities. Failure is not tolerated”added the head of state, assuring that he “to heart” the health sector and insist “improving care for the population every day”

Also read: In Senegal, the anachronistic survival of “leper villages”

Senegal, a Muslim-majority country, has made significant progress on women’s rights in recent years, as evidenced by the adoption in early April of a “law on the protection of pregnant women”specifically intended to end the widespread practice of firing a female worker when she is pregnant.

But the UN and human rights defenders regularly call on authorities to do more to end the discrimination, including legal discrimination, faced by women, as well as the violence to which they are routinely subjected.

“Justice for Astou”

The tragedy in Louga is the latest in a series of tragedies that have occurred in Senegal in the health sector, where unions regularly lament a lack of human, technical and financial resources. Some have already made headlines, such as the death of four newborns in April 2021 after a hospital fire in the town of Linguère, near Louga.

“What hurts the most is when we Senegalese act as if we are terrified to discover what is happening in this country. Today is the hospital. Tomorrow, [ce sera] other [chose]† We’ll forget and we’ll move on to the next controversy. Everyday life is dramatic because it downplays everything.complained a Twitter user Tuesday.

Read also Senegal: Dakar hospitals are “close to saturation” due to influx of Covid-19 patients

On social networks, many posts condemn the treatment reserved for patients in public structures and in particular the delays that lead many patients to turn to private sector services, despite the higher costs. “We cannot continue to hold God accountable for our actions”wrote one woman on Twitter.

A petition calling for “Justice for Astou” has already collected tens of thousands of signatures and a march is planned for Friday in Louga on the same theme. According to the press, the victim’s husband filed a complaint with the local court on Monday.

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Le Monde and AFP

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