THE parents of a one-month-old baby boy, who died suddenly and inexplicably last month at Oshakati, are demanding answers from regional health officials.
According to the father of the deceased infant, Kalemba Petrus (46), his son Ericky Petrus was born healthy on 2 May this year at the Oshakati State Hospital.
He said when his girlfriend, Rebbeka Martin (19), was discharged from hospital with their baby, she was told by medical personnel to take the baby for his first vaccination after six weeks to any state clinic or hospital.
“She brought him to the Oshakati state clinic, and he was vaccinated by a nurse. However, after the vaccination, he started crying so much, and the mother thought it was just the pain of the injection,” Petrus told The Namibian last week.
Petrus explained that from the clinic, Martin went into a clothes shop, and it was there that security guards noticed something was wrong with the baby in the sling on her back.
“They did not want to tell her he was dead. They told her to wrap him in a blanket, and hailed a taxi which took her to hospital,” he said.
The baby was declared dead upon arrival at the hospital’s casualty section.
Petrus added that after the death of his son, he enquired from Oshana regional health officials about the possible cause of death.
“They said they would conduct a post-mortem to determine the cause of death and let us know, but they did not. We were issued with a death certificate, indicating that he died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). But we do not understand it,” he said, adding that they buried their son days later.
Martin said Oshana health director Johanna Imene promised them that the post-mortem results would be given to them within a few days, but they have yet to receive any news. “We called her a few days ago, but she was not picking up her phone. They should explain to us what happened to my son,” she fumed.
Imene told The Namibian yesterday that the couple was informed of all the procedures to determine the cause of death of their child. She said a post-mortem was conducted at Oshakati shortly after the death. “A post-mortem which was carried out does not link the baby’s death to the vaccine. So, they should not say the vaccine caused the death,” she stated, adding that tissue from major organs was sent to Windhoek for testing in order to establish the exact cause of the baby’s death. “We do not know how long it will take for the results to come, as the results are sometimes sent out of the country,” she continued.
Senior medical officer in Oshana, Dr Musa Sahani, who is in charge of the investigation, also confirmed that liver tissue has been sent for testing. “The final microscopic tests are the ones to tell what caused the death. The vaccines are created to fight diseases, so how can they cause death? [Saying things] like that will lead to scaring people from bringing children for vaccinations,” he said.