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Senegal tries midwives after death of mother in labour

Women demonstrate during a sit-in to demand justice for Astou Sokhna and call for a more humane and patient-friendly health care system in Dakar on April 23, 2022   -  
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CARMEN ABD ALI/AFP or licensors


The trial of Senegalese midwives accused of neglecting a mother who died during labour resumed on Thursday.

Six health workers were charged in April with 'failure to assist a person in danger'. The case has prompted enormous outrage in the West African country, where health workers are often accused of extorting patients, misconduct, and negligence.

The victim, Astou Sokhna, allegedly waited hours for medical attention before she passed at a regional hospital in northwestern Senegal.

Sokhna's family blamed her death on medical negligence.

Since then, patient rights organizations have been overwhelmed by complaints, testimonies, and petitions against health workers especially those in the countryside.

A lawyer representing the accused has said his clients feel victimized, while the Association of midwives in Senegal has voiced strong support for the accused.

The association says the health workers are being unfairly targeted.

Senegal's health system is dogged by staffing, infrastructure, equipment, and funding problems.

The country's maternal mortality rate stands at about 156 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to government figures.

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