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Six midwives charged for a woman's death in senegal

Patients waiting outside an hospital in Senegal   -  
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JOHN WESSELS/AFP or licensors


Six midwives are being prosecuted in Senegal following the death of a pregnant woman in a public hospital.

Astou Sokhna, in her thirties, waited in vain for a Caesarean section for hours and whose tragic fate has stunned the country, their lawyer said Wednesday.

Four of them "were imprisoned Tuesday night" in the northern city of Louga and "two were provisionally released".

The latter two had been "employed for more than four years as trainees with a modest remuneration and they were asked for results" in terms of the quality of care provided, complained Abou Abdou Daff as he spoke to AFP on Wednesday.

The State responded to the incident by dismissing the director of the hospital, which was announced at the end of a Council of Ministers. Mr. Daff. Senegalese Health Minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sall acknowledged on April 14 that the death of Astou Sokhna could have been avoided with more vigilance.

The circumstances of Sokhna's death as reported by the press have sparked a flood of protests on social networks against the deficiencies of the public health system in Senegal. The staff of the hospital reportedly refused her request, arguing that her operation was not scheduled, and threatened to evict her if she insisted.

In a twist of the events, the Alliance of Autonomous Health Unions (Asas) announced in a statement that it had begun a 72-hour strike on Wednesday, in particular in "support of the comrades of Louga" prosecuted by the courts.

The Asas had "deplored" on April 16 that the government has "not waited for the conclusions of the judicial inquiry to condemn the brave workers before deliberately throwing them in front of the media lynch mob (...) to try to hide in vain the flaws of the system which it is the guarantor."

The strike is also aimed at protesting against the government's failure to respect agreements for better remuneration for health workers, according to Asas.

In the meantime, all six accused women will be tried on April 27 before the High Court of Louga.

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