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‘Vaccine death’ judgement due in July

2022-02-22  Maria Amakali

‘Vaccine death’ judgement due in July

A mother suing health authorities for allegedly causing the death of her three-month-old infant after a vaccine shot in 2015, will only hear judgement in the matter in July this year. 

Judge Orben Sibeya postponed Victoria Kangala’s lawsuit to 29 July for judgement after hearing closing arguments in the High Court. Kangala, mother of the victim Mwaukange Shifiona, is suing the State for N$710 000 for negligently causing the death of her infant on 13 January 2015. 

During oral arguments, Kangala’s lawyer Sharen Zenda argued that the infant died as a result of negligence by the medical officers at the Katutura Intermediate Hospital, who could have foreseen the minor’s death from meningitis.  “They failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the death, falling short of the standards of a reasonable doctor in a similar situation,” said Zenda. She said the medical personnel at the Katutura hospital failed to act promptly or take reasonable steps timeously to administer medication that could prevent the baby’s condition from deteriorating. 

Thus, Kangala is entitled to the payment she seeks for the psychological toll and trauma she experienced as she watched her son’s condition deteriorate until death. 

Kangala claims she took her baby to the Black Chain clinic in Katutura on 7 January 2015. However, after returning home to Windhoek’s informal settlement of Okahandja Park, the baby was inconsolably crying and did not want to be breastfed. 

The following morning, she observed the baby’s face was swollen and her eyes were closed. Kangala rushed the infant to the Katutura hospital, where the baby was admitted into the intensive care unit (ICU). The baby died on 13 January 2015. 

She claims that she never gave consent for the nurses at the clinic to administer a vaccine, and they failed to ensure the vaccine they were administering was safe and would not have an adverse impact on the patient. 

Arguing for the health ministry, Janseline Gawises said the court should decide whether the medical staff at the Katutura hospital were negligent in the treatment rendered to the minor child. 

She said the medical staff who attended to the infant acted with care and diligence when they administered the vaccine. Gawises indicated that the vaccine administered to the baby has been tested and complies with the World Health Organisation’s standards and practices on vaccines and medicines. 

She furthermore submitted that Kangala gave consent for the baby to be vaccinated after consultations with medical practitioners. According to the medical report prepared by professor Clarissa Hildegard Pieper, a registered paediatrician, per the State’s request, the baby died of meningitis and aspiration. Pieper’s findings are supported by Kangala’s paediatric doctor, Steffen Bau. 

“According to the information I was supplied with, it is likely that the infant died of a bacterial meningitis. 

This was compounded by aspiration pneumonia,” said Bau. He further noted that the infant’s death was not vaccine-related.

2022-02-22  Maria Amakali

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