A baby of less than two days old was early this week found dumped in a public pit latrine at Kitgum district headquarters but died moments later when efforts to try and save its life were futile.
A woman, who had gone to answer nature’s call at about 9.00am local time (EAT) on Monday, heard the shrill cry of a baby from deep inside the pit and alerted people.
The Police were called around 10.00am and a grader was deployed to demolish the latrine to rescue the baby.
The baby was retrieved about two hours later, wrapped in an old bed sheet with a long forceps (pair of scissors) still attached to the umbilical cord. Maggots dripped from her tender and limp body as rescuers tried to place her on a polythene sheet.
The child was quickly rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital, about two kilometres on the outskirts of the town where medical workers attempted to resuscitate it by pumping oxygen through its nostrils.
However, after about ten minutes, the medics announced the baby dead.
Despite medics' efforts to save her life, she was clinically dead before reaching the hospital. “It was brought late. It had inhaled something which blocked air passage and she could not breathe,” one of the nurses said.
Secretary for health and education, Dick Kilama then directed the Police, officials from district probation and welfare office and local leaders to mount an impromptu operation in all health facilities in and around the town to trace the possible suspect.
The search at the government-owned Kitgum Hospital bore some fruit.
A 20-year-old mother who had delivered girl normally at about 10.00pm the previous night had escaped the following morning without official discharge.
She had identified herself as Sunday Atuk, a resident of Apollo Ground then later changed and said Gang-dyang.
Hospital sources said she was brought for delivery at the health facility by a man and a woman who later disappeared after the woman had delivered.
“I asked her for her [antenatal] card but she said she had forgoten it at home. She did not even come with a basin or bed sheet [and other requirements for delivery]. I borrowed some of these things from other patients to help her. She delivered almost immediately,” a nurse told the district team.
Meanwhile, the police are holding a one Bashir, a Mugisu who sells mandazi at Kitgum Bus Park and a Vicky Aluku, the two people said to have escorted the suspect to the hospital for delivery.
The district police commander, Ochama Denis, said the two would help the Police to trace the fugitive mother.
“We arrested them with the help of wanainchi [citizens] who actually identified them and brought them here last evening,” Ochama told New Vision Tuesday morning.
The DPC said the culprit, if got, would be taken for medical tests to ascertain her state of mind and that, if found stable, would be charged with murder in the courts of law.
This is the second time a baby is being dumped by its mother in a period of two months.
In the previous scenerio, a teenage girl dumped her two-month-old baby at the banks of River Pager. The child was rescued and survived and now is being cared for by Irene Gleeson Foundation.
Police later arrested the mother but set her free saying she was underage.
Area elders have decried the evil practice they say never used to happen before and go on to blame it on “modernity”.