The LAC was approached by the parents of nine (9) infants who passed away after being immunised at various state facilities across the country. The parents allege that they were not given proper information before and after the vaccination of their infants and such did not give the necessary consent for their infants to be vaccinated. All nine (9) matters are currently being litigated before the High Court of Namibia. Most of the matters are ready for hearing. In the end, the LAC hopes to change government policies in relation to the conduct of immunisations at public health facilities.
Since 2014 the HURICON and later SJP has been litigating on medical negligence matters. Over the years, SJP has received positive judgment on the matters that have gone to trial. Other cases were settled out of court between the parties. Some matters are being litigated upon now. SJP currently has over fifteen (15) cases in which we have been instructed to sue the Minister of Health and Social Services for medical negligence. The circumstances of the cases are different. The SJP is currently considering strategic litigation to bring justice to the victim’s families while at the same time holding the medical staff personally liable for the damages. In the end, the LAC hopes to change government policies within the health sector. In total the LAC has over thirty matters involving medical negligence.
These were cases litigated under HURICON in which HIV positive women were sterilised at public health facilities without their knowledge and consent. The matters were heard in the High Court and judgement was passed in favour of the women. Government appealed against the decision to the Supreme Court. The appeal was heard and judgment passed in favour of the women. The court held that the women were sterilised without the requisite consent. On that basis, the victims received monetary compensation, which was paid over to them. They have been no further reports of forced sterilisations. However, some women who were sterilised during the same time and had no knowledge of the sterilisation who have recently discovered that they are sterilised have come to the LAC for advice. The matters have prescribed but the LAC will conduct further research on the issue of prescription and are hopeful that the decision of the Supreme Court will encourage Government to make ex gratia payments as a show of good will.
Dietary concerns in Correctional Facilities
During SJP’s visits to correctional facilities we received numerous complaints regarding inmates’ diet. Some inmates have been prescribed special diets by a registered medical practitioner because of their health conditions. In 2013 an inmate managed to get a High Court judgment under the then Prisons Act compelling the state to provide him with food that meets the required dietary recommendations by the dietician. The Court ruled in favour of the inmate, and directed the Prisons (as it then was) to implement a system to provide inmates with their dietary needs as prescribed. The Prisons Act has however since been repealed and replaced with the Correctional Service Act. SJP is currently undertaking research on giving effect to the 2013 order, alternatively, bringing a de novo application on behalf of the inmates with special needs.