Twins cut out of dead mother with razorblades on street leads to public outcry in Cameroon

Monique Koumate's family are raising money to help pay for her funeral

Serina Sandhu
Wednesday 30 March 2016 16:18
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The babies were delivered outside the hospital
The babies were delivered outside the hospital

Cameroon’s healthcare system has come under fire after the relative of a dead woman attempted to deliver her twins by cutting open her stomach with razorblades.

Only one of the babies was alive but it also died a short while after the procedure took place outside the Laquintinie Hospital in Douala, according to reports.

The female relative, who has no medical training, was one of four people to be arrested and placed on bail following the incident.

According to a GoFundMe page, launched to raise money to pay for the funeral of Ms Koumate, blame for her death earlier in March has been placed on Cameroon's "inadequate and negligent health care system”.

An update on the page informs that Ms Koumate’s “corpse and that of her babies are being detained for investigation and will later be released to her husband and family for burial”.

On 12 March, the 31-year-old, who already has three children, was taken to the hospital by family members when she fell ill.

They were directed to the maternity ward of the Laquintinie Hospital, but two employees there said Ms Koumate had already died – the time and location of death remains unclear.

The hospital staff, one of whom is believed to be the on-duty midwife, told her relatives to take her to the mortuary.

Ms Koumate’s mother, Marie Sen, told the BBC: “The mortuary attendant even came and said the babies were still kicking inside the stomach. We went to the maternity ward [again] but they chased us away.”

According to some reports, the hospital refused to help deliver the twins because Ms Koumate’s family could not afford to pay for a Caesarean section.

Consequently a relative of Ms Koumate, named by the BBC as Takeh Rose, used some razorblades to try and deliver the twins outside the hospital.

Ms Rose, the mortuary attendant, the on-duty midwife and the on-duty nurse were all arrested and released on bail as the investigation continues.

Mobile phone footage of the incident was shared on social media, and a few days later, residents of Douala protested against the country's healthcare system outside the state-run hospital.

One protestor told the KamerVibe website: “We cannot continue to let Cameroonians die. It is unacceptable that those who do not have money, die in our hospitals. That ends today, we [mobilised] this protest to express our dissatisfaction.”

Andre Mama Fouda, Cameroon’s health minister, said the staff of the hospital were not at fault.

In a statement from a press conference after Ms Koumate’s death, Mr Fouda said: “It’s a horrible act and Cameroon is very very sad with this. I will inform you that the security forces continue to survey the midwife, the major, the woman and the personnel of the mortuary.”

“I will say that, it is not a problem of negligence in… [Laquintinie] hospital in Douala. This problem is terrible and together we continue to survey and we will have all aspects of this problem for the near future," he said, according to CRTV.

But in a Facebook post, Justice Ayah Paul Abine, a Supreme Court judge, criticised the health minister for absolving the hospital staff of blame.

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