KITWE district commissioner Elias Kamanga says the incident where a woman gave birth in a car within the premises of the central hospital was inappropriate, and he cannot apologise to anybody over his statement.
But the Health Workers Unions of Zambia says there was need for the government and the Kitwe communities to appreciate the strides the health workers were making to deliver quality services despite being understaffed and working under extreme pressure.
Commenting on the decision by nurses that staged a sit-in over his alleged accusation of negligence after an incident where a 35-year-old woman of Kitwe's Ndeke township delivered in a motor vehicle within the Kitwe Central Hospital premises on Tuesday, Kamanga said it was his primary duty to ensure that the people in the district receive quality services from public institutions such as health.
"I received a call from a concerned citizen, who told me that there was a woman giving birth in a car without any help from even the medical staff and when I rushed there, I even said if the allegations are true, then it was extremely unfortunate and unacceptable. I even called for serious investigations and said whoever would be found wanting should be disciplined. We appreciate the commitment of the medical staff and the challenging conditions but there could be some bad eggs; giving birth in a car at a hospital is unacceptable," Kamanga said.
He said from the information he received, including from the woman's husband, the woman was only helped by a female passer-by and a few other people that later rushed the newborn inside the hospital.
"I cannot apologise for my earlier comments on that situation, not even at the expense of losing my job because I have a duty to the people of Kitwe, to the women in general and the government to uphold integrity and to execute our duties to the expectations of the people," Kamanga said.
He appealed to health workers to continue with their duties as the Minister of Health Dr Joseph Kasonde had instituted investigations into the matter.
But some nurses explained yesterday that the woman only went to the hospital in the final stages of her labour and despite doing so, a nurse from the Paediatrics Department assisted her to deliver.
And Health Workers Union of Zambia general secretary Lewis Mukosha said the situation at Kitwe Central Hospital was volatile on Tuesday due to the misrepresentation of facts on what had transpired.
He said it was unfortunate that the community and various establishments had failed to appreciate that the health services were sometimes compromised due to the critical shortage of medical staff.
"As a nation, we are running below the World Health Organisation standard when we talk of medical personnel. In Zambia we are supposed to be over 60,000 but we are just slightly above 33,000. All these are challenges. We hope this matter will be logically concluded," said Mukosha.