A 32-year-old Hindu woman from a village in Chhachhro, Tharparkar, delivered a dead breech baby girl at a charity hospital on June 16.
Breech delivery is when a baby’s bottom comes out first during the delivery.
In Chhachhro the hospital staff tried to deliver the breech baby’s head for half an hour but failed. After failing to deliver the rest of the baby, the hospital staff cut off the head before the mother was sent to Mithi hospital. The procedure was done in the absence of a gynaecologist and female staffers. The woman was then taken to the Mithi district headquarters hospital, where she was advised to rush to Liaquat University of Medical & Health Sciences, Jamshoro (LUH), which was 220 km away from Mithi. Altogether, she had to travel 319 km with the baby’s head inside her womb.
According to the baby’s father, they had an X-ray taken from a hospital, where the doctor had told him that his wife would have an operation because the baby was upside down in the mother’s womb. According to him, the doctor also told him the date of delivery. He said that as soon as his wife’s condition deteriorated, he took her to a local midwife who said that she was not feeling well, after which he took his wife to the hospital.
In LUH, an abdomen surgery was performed on her and the baby’s head was taken out after 18 hours of back-to-back delivery pains. This was the woman’s fifth child who died during delivery.
Prof Dr Raheel Sikandar of LUH said that usually breech babies are delivered and they survive. According to him, the woman had a ruptured uterus.
“Healthcare providers [in Chhachhro] might have tried to save the baby, but in vain. The baby’s head was entrapped. In such breech baby cases, deaths occur in one minute if they are not fully delivered.”
“The baby’s buttocks and legs were fully developed, but unfortunately it was a dead breech baby,” Dr Sikandar added. However, the woman’s life has been saved. She is currently admitted to the gynecology unit of LUH.
The charity hospital in Chhachhro said that while the nurses were cleaning the patient, the dead baby’s torso detached from the neck because the neck had already been broken. They revealed that at the time they didn’t have any gynaecologist, which is why they could not operate. The hospital further claimed that the woman’s family was told to go to Mithi but they insisted on getting the treatment at the charity hospital, reports BBC Urdu.
Action taken by the authorities:
A notification issued by the Director-General (DG) Sindh Health on Saturday stated: “The fetus was not in a cephalic position. So the head got stuck after delivering the torso because the delivery was done by inexperienced hands.” DG Sindh Health said that an investigation has been started in which the statements of the staff of the missionary hospital have been recorded. An inquiry was also ordered by the provincial health secretary.
Pakistan has the highest infant mortality rate in South Asia. According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the country reported 54 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
News of infant deaths and the non-availability of doctors in hospitals have been circulating in the media for the last decade in Tharparkar. Several times, this issue was brought up in the Supreme Court (SC), High Court, and the Sindh Assembly but all in vain.