A Senegalese court on Wednesday sentenced a three-month suspended sentence to three midwives in a high-profile case of a mother-to-be who died in agony after several hours of asking for a cesarean section.
Three midwives were found guilty of failing to help someone in danger, and three of their colleagues were acquitted, AFP reporters reported.
The case involved Astov Sokhna, a woman in her thirties who was in her ninth month of pregnancy.
According to local media, she was hospitalized in pain at a public hospital in the northern city of Luga with a request for a cesarean section.
Officers refused, citing the fact that the operation was not planned, and even threatening to take her out of the hospital if she continued to comply with her demand, the report said.
She reportedly died in agony on the night of April 1, suffering for about 20 hours.
Her death has sparked a storm of outrage in the West African state, where many people have gone out on social media to condemn health care failures.
The case quickly gained political prominence: President Mackie Sal sent condolences to the Sokhna family and ordered an investigation into what happened.
On April 14, Health Minister Abdullah Diouf Sar admitted that her death could have been avoided. Since then, the hospital director has been fired and replaced.
At the trial, which began on April 27, prosecutors asked for four accused midwives with a one-month reprieve and an 11-month reprieve, and recommended the release of two others.
Three convicted midwives were on night duty, and three released midwives were on day duty.
Abu Abdou Duff, a lawyer for one of the three convicted midwives, said the reasons for his client’s sentence had not been named and an appeal was being considered.
“Defendants have denied and continue to deny” the charges, Duff said. “The medical team has a responsibility to respond to what is available, not to produce results.”