IRELAND: Family of Zim woman who died after giving birth in Kerry hospital ‘hoping for answers’
DUBLIN: The mother of a woman who died after giving birth to a healthy baby girl says she hopes an inquest will provide her family with answers as to why she died.
Zimbabwean native Tatenda Mukwata died at University Hospital Kerry on April 21 last year and was laid to rest in Kenmare.
She was a resident at the Atlantic Lodge direct provision centre in Kenmare but had been granted permission to stay in Ireland shortly before she died.
Her year-old daughter Eva attended her first anniversary Mass in Kenmare, with her other children Rutendo, Sherley, and Munashe and Tatenda’s parents Catherine and Oscar.
Catherine and other members of Tatenda’s family are now looking ahead to the inquest into her death, to be held in Tralee on August 30.
“Although we had a meeting with the hospital and they told us some events of her death, we are still left with unanswered questions,” said Catherine. “We are hoping the inquest will give us some of the answers we are looking for.”
Catherine is now looking after her daughter’s four children, having moved from the UK where she had been living before her daughter died.
“It was not difficult because this is my family and they are my priority. I used to visit Tatenda and the children in Ireland when Tatenda was alive.”
She says that little Eva is doing well.
She recalls how she had been looking forward to visiting Tatenda after the birth of Eva.
“I was scheduled to visit on April 15, 2022. We then postponed for me to visit after she had given birth. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen as she passed on April 21, 2022.”
Ms Mukwata had been working in Kerry in a nursing home and had planned further studies here.
“She stopped working there when she got pregnant,” said her mother. “She was due to start learning disability nursing at University of Cork in September 2022. She would have been a good nurse.”
A crowdfunding campaign was set up to help her young family following her death.
A spokesman for the South/Southwest Hospital Group said: “In keeping with HSE protocols, all maternal deaths are independently reviewed. This process is ongoing.”
The HSE has previously said it is aware of the “disproportionate over-representation” of ethnic minority women in adverse maternity events in Ireland; however, it noted that Ireland’s data is similar to that of the US and the UK.
Of 13 maternal death inquests held between 2007 and 2021, six involved women of colour.
The HSE plans to hold engagements with representative groups to determine how to reduce the number of maternal deaths among ethnic minority women.
National Women and Infants Health Programme general manager Mary-Jo Biggs acknowledged in a response to a parliamentary question put down by Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns that previous research showed “significant challenges” in communication, language and literacy skills, digital skills and access, timely access to care, and healthcare staff’s “unconscious bias and lack of cultural sensitivity”.
The HSE said that it has written to the six maternity networks in the country on two occasions, requesting that ethnicity be captured and considered as part of adverse event reviews.