Two years under PF, pregnant women still dying on road due to lack of facilities

A 25-YEAR-OLD expectant woman of Musipazi village of Nabwalya, who last week died with her five months pregnancy, had her body left unburied in an open grave as per Bisa custom.

Juliet kawimba,25 died due to suspected high fever as the husband could not manage to take her to Chilonga Mission Hospital which is the nearest health facility to Nabwalya, about 317km away.

According to an eye witness, Emmanuel Katongo, a local contractor from Builders Construction Company engaged to construct a health facility at Kalimba Village, said the family members of the late woman agreed that according to the Bisa custom, when a woman dies with a pregnancy, she has to be laid in a open grave with the baby inside her womb to cleanse the spirit of maternal death in the family.

Mr Katongo explained that the woman died on June 20, 2013, around 10:00 hours in the morning and her body was kept in a grass-thatched hut behind the house claiming that this would prevent other expectant mothers to meet the same fate.

The witness said his company donated plunks and made a coffin but surprisingly, the burial programme was not announced to the people who went to mourn.

Mr Katongo said the body of the deceased was taken to the grave yard early in the morning in the company of the widower and a few family members, leaving behind all the expectant mothers with a belief that if they follow to the graveyard they might die in the same manner.

Mr Katongo, who was among the people who went to the graveyard, expressed shock to learn that the pallbearers just lowered the coffin in the grave and family members started covering the grave with thorny tree branches and grass without any soil and left the grave without looking behind.

He explained that according to the Bias custom, when a pregnant woman dies, she is not supposed to be buried, but to be laid in the grave with her womb intact until she gets decomposed and bursts, which means that the bereaved family is free from maternal deaths.

However, the body of the deceased woman has decomposed in the open grave, contaminating nearby villages with a bad smell, forcing the contractor to temporarily abandon the project while other villagers have also fled their homes in search of fresh air.

However, cases of women dying with pregnancies in Nabwalya have become common due to long distance to hospital and the mountainous terrain which is not conducive for patients and for fear to be attacked by wild animals.

Juliet is survived by one child behind and the husband.

– See more at:

Share this post