Eastern Province Deputy Permanent Secretary Patrick Mwanawasa says the case in which a woman of Chief Chinunda’s area delivered from a soya beans field is a sign of negligence by staff at the clinic.

And Patrick says it is nonsensical for people to attribute the incidence to tribal wrangles between chiefs Mafuta and Chinunda, saying the medical staff were bound by the health ethics of the Health Professionals Act and not the code of ethics of the chief or any tribal considerations.

He told a media briefing in Chipata yesterday that investigations conducted by his office revealed that there was negligence of duty and care by the medical personnel at Chanyumbu Clinic which led to the woman delivering from the soya beans field.

“Facts of the case suggest that Chinymbu clinic had no capacity to deal with labour cases, especially for those women above six pregnancies. And then the other observation was that both the sister-in-charge and the clinical officer were absent at the clinic when the same lady appeared there for attention. Thirdly, the expectant mother was sent to some distance alone without aid when she was in labour. So in other words, she was sent to go and seek attention from the local chairman to see how he could assist them to move to the next available health facility. And then the fourth observation is that it was found that there wasn’t any help on the part of the clinic towards the expectant mother. Now, at first value, what I have discovered that there was negligence of duty, negligence of care from the people who were entrusted with looking after patients,” Patrick said.

He dismissed reports that the woman was sent away from the clinic because of tribal wrangles that were going on in the area.

“I am dismissing those allegations because this issue is to do with health practitioners. It has got nothing to do with any tribal inclinations or whatsoever. The officers there are bound by the health ethics of the health professionals Act and not the code of ethics of the chief or any tribal considerations that may be. So in coming to a logical conclusion on this matter, we are not going to seek the traditional laws for guidance as to how we are going to handle this case. I mean those are professionals and they should have known their responsibilities. So to say that it’s because of tribal inclinations, I think it’s nonsensical,” said Patrick. 

Patrick said his office would soon engage the Medical Council of Zambia (MCZ) to institute disciplinary actions against the Chanyumbu clinic officers for abrogating the Health Profession act.