The High Court Civil Division has ordered Rosewell Women and Children Hospital to bring to court a four-month-old baby who was retained over unpaid bills.
Last month Bridgers Alinda Mugenyi and Saloome Aturinde dragged Rosewell Women and Children Hospital Limited to court for retaining their newborn baby.
In their petition before the Civil Division of the High Court, the couple said that the hospital’s actions have turned their baby into a commodity, which they consider to be inhuman, cruel, and degrading.
They claim that the hospital even threatened to sell the baby to Sanyu Baby’s home. According to the parents, the hospital prevented the baby’s mother from breastfeeding or providing pumped breast milk to the child.
They are also concerned about the potential health risks associated with not breastfeeding and the distress faced by the mother.
The couple is also requesting general damages for the violation of their constitutional rights and freedom from inhuman, cruel, and degrading treatment.
According to the order issued on Wednesday by Civil Division Judge Esta Nambayo, the hospital has been directed to bring the baby and its food with the caretaker today at 2 p.m.
Evidence presented to the court indicates that on May 7th, 2023, Mugenyi accompanied Aturinde to Rosewell Hospital when her amniotic fluid started flowing. Aturinde had been receiving antenatal care at the same hospital. A cesarean birth was recommended, and the baby was placed in the nursery for further care.
The records indicate that the hospital informed the parents that they could only leave after paying the medical bills that were presented on May 11th, 2023, amounting to 5,210,000 Shillings for the mother and 4,367,000 Shillings for the baby. Mugenyi paid the outstanding medical bill on May 15th, 2023. Despite the payment, the hospital reportedly refused to release the baby to the mother.
They also state that the hospital threatened to sell the baby unless payment is made and their actions have caused distress to their family that they even took the national identity cards and that the mother was later diagnosed with Depression, Postpartum, and Psychosis.
According to the case although the unpaid bill was 4.3 million Shillings the money accumulated and as of May 27, 2023, it was at 16.2 million Shillings.
However, when the matter came up for hearing, the lawyer representing Rosewell Hospital Semakula Mukiibi said that they had no response to the case because they could not access it on ECCMIS, the Electronic Court Case Management Information System.
Mukiibi also told the court that the baby is not with Rosewell Hospital but with Loving Hearts Baby’s Home. He added that the baby was born with respiratory complications and managed at Neo -natal section having been born prematurely.
Asked how the baby got at Loving Hearts, Mukiibi told the court that on the day of discharging the baby, they tried to find the parents, in vain.
According to Mukiibi, the hospital reported a case of baby desertion and with the help of the police and Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA Probation Officer, they took the newborn to a safe place.