Nurses at the Accident and Emergency unit of the a major referral medical center in the Gambia were blamed Sunday for the death of an 18-year-old accident victim of a drunk driver.
Medical staff at the Serrekunda Hospital in Kanifing allegedly refused to give medical care to the victim, Mama Sally Cham without the presence of police officers.
Those that were at the hospital say “not a single qualified medical doctor” was on duty at the critical hospital unit, where many accidents survivors are rushed to get immediate medical care.
“Not a single qualified medical doctor was present. This nurse who seemed to hate her job spent about five minutes wearing her gloves alone,” said Malima Ceesay, a witness.
“To add salt to injury, her supervisor suddenly appears from nowhere and says the victim wouldn’t be ‘touched’ in the absence of a police officer.”
Meanwhile, Mama Sally was lying on a stretcher on the hospital floor and pronounced dead before the police could arrive, an act that many are criticizing online as “gross negligence” on the part of medical staffers on duty.
“She could’ve been saved if the necessary measures were taken when she initially got to the A&E Unit. Besides, What is the essence of having an A&E Unit when accidents can’t be treated as emergencies?….. I still can’t wrap my head around how a human being could watch a fellow human die and do absolutely nothing about it,” said Ceesay, who is distraught about the incident.
The driver of the vehicle, whose name has not been released surrendered to the police but no charges were pressed. He is reportedly the son of a police commissioner and the “issue is being settled at a family level.”
The nurses have not been arrested and the public, outraged, is calling for their apprehension and prosecution of being complicit in the teenager’s death.
A majority of Gambians cannot afford the costly private medical care and those, especially in rural Gambia have to sometimes wait for a week or longer to have registered nurses visit their villages.
Negligence of medical officers in Gambian hospitals have been blamed for many deaths, including that of newborn babies, who have sometimes dropped off hospital beds right after delivery.
At least two midwives in Brikama were arrested and charged with negligence in 2014 for a similar incident and had their license to practice revoked by authorities.
Although 66% of Gambia’s health funding comes from donors and only 10% comes from the government, medical facilities remain understaffed and underequipped with no access to critical medicine.
Correction: A previous version of this story named the hospital as the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital instead of the Serrekunda General Hospital in Kanifing.