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The death of Journalist Tsegereda Hailu and the sad state of health care in Ethiopia

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Expand view Topic review: The death of Journalist Tsegereda Hailu and the sad state of health care in Ethiopia

The death of Journalist Tsegereda Hailu and the sad state of health care in Ethiopia

Post by Meronn » 22 Feb 2012, 14:28

( - Three months ago journalist and writer Tsegereda Hailu died suddenly. The tragedy of her death shocked all who knew and loved her. Thirty four years old Tsegereda, well known for as a journalist and writer died suddenly after giving birth to her second child.


Tsegereda had been working at her job as up to two days before her due date. Her colleagues remember encouraging her to begin her maternity leave earlier, but Tsegereda chose to work to the last in anticipation of taking all her leave after giving birth.

Sadly, Tsegereda only lived for hours after delivering a baby girl. According to her autopsy Tsegereda died from complications caused by intense labor and preeclampsia.

Tsegereda had been relatively fine after delivery and communicated coherently with her family and friends.

She was taken to the delivery room at the Marie Stopes International clinic at about 12:30. Her family was told that she had delivered safely approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes later and she was brought back to her room according to her childhood friend Meaza Engeda who was with her in her last hours.

Tsegereda called her colleagues at ‘Addis Guday’ with the good news of her delivery and she received congratulatory text messages in return, all sharing in the joy of her safe delivery.

Less than an hour later Tsegereda complained of feeling nauseous and while she was heaving her mother noticed that she was bleeding [deleted]. The nurse was called and the family was asked to leave the room.

Tsegereda was returned to the delivery room and the medical professionals claimed to be doing all they could when the family requested that she be taken to another medical facility should her complications be beyond their capacity.

The family was finally notified of her death at about 6 pm in the evening, after which they chose to notify the police of the unclear circumstances behind her death.

Tsegereda’s death was made even more complicated by a history of maternal deaths and abortion that had caused the Ethiopian government to temporarily close down two Marie Stopes International medical facilities.

Tsegereda herself had investigated the allegations of rampant abortion at the Marie Stopes clinic around Piassa in depth leading to suspicions of willful of neglect.

The police investigation into the suspicions of medical malpractice associated with Tsigerda’s death began with the autopsy conducted at Menelik II Hospital. The autopsy revealed the final cause of death has raised other questions that have so far not been answered adequately according to reports discovered by ‘Addis Guday’.

Amongst the questions raised by the autopsy are the broken ribs, the blood discovered in her left chest cavity, the swelling in her brain and the jaundiced condition of her internal organs.

Tsegereda was a well known public figure due to her involvement in various writers and journalist associations As a professional journalist and editor she served with several publications including weekly newspaper, ‘Menelik’, Kum Neger Magazine, Edeme Magazine and for the last years of her life she served as Deputy Senior Editor with ‘Addis Guday’ news magazine, (formerly Rose).

Her love and talent for literature was expressed in the short stories collected in her book ‘Meto Desta Felega’ and the various stories that she contributed to the collections prepared by Population Media.

Media reports on the investigation of Tsegereda’s death seem to have lost momentum in the face of unanswerable questions. Her family and her friends however still mourn her passing and are working hard to raise awareness to potential medical neglect in this day and age when the Ethiopian government and non governmental bodies working to reduce maternal death caused by labor and associated complications.

Various memorial events were held by a range of associations and organizations that Tsegereda contributed to. One such event was held by the Every One Campaign in Ethiopia which dedicated the award ceremony of its media competition to the memory of Tsegereda Hailu, who had registered to compete in the challenge to raise public awareness on maternal and new born death.

The award ceremony was held at the Harmony Hotel on the 16th of February. The highlight of the Tsegereda Hailu Memorial Media Competition Award Ceremony was the emotional speech given by her brother Mesfin representing her family.

He charged the journalists present to keep alive his sister’s memory by fighting medical negligence and similar preventable causes of maternal death in Ethiopia. His plea reduced many to tears and the tragic irony of her death in childbirth while taking part in a campaign intended to combat the issue was not lost on any one.

The Everyone Campaign and the journalists who took part in the competition can only be further burdened by the need to raise awareness on the need to eliminate all avoidable risks that face mothers as they give life.

The campaign has been working with key government bodies, public figures and the media to create a strong and active constituency for the cause sponsored by over 18 governmental and non governmental bodies in Ethiopia alone.

The media competition, completed with the award ceremony last Thursday, was part of the 2011 2012 theme ‘Health workers Save Lives’ highlighting the role of health workers in saving the lives of mothers and infants.

In line with the need to underscore the role played by health professionals the death of Tsegereda is a reminder of the lack of accountability and transparency that characterizes medical practice in our country.

Her memory should fuel a movement to address the need for an enforceable legal framework which mandates close investigation of deaths from suspected medical malpractice and appropriate mechanisms of redress when such neglect is proven.

The reality of the great shortage of medical professionals which may hinder enforcement of cases of malpractice should not be translated into a institutionalized negligence by medical service providers as seems to be the cases in various instances including, potentially the death of journalist, writer, mother, sister, daughter and friend Tsegereda Hailu.