Monday, July 22, 2024

‘Punching doctor’ in ‘Ndemban Hospital’ case not pardoned by Health Minister

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Dawda Baldeh

Claim: Dr Samateh and his team have decided to pardon ‘The Ndemban Clinic doctor’ who was caught on CCTV camera punching his patient in the face.

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Verdict: False. The Gambia’s Minister of Health, Dr Ahmed Lamin Samateh, and his team do not influence ongoing investigations. A press release from the hospital also denies the claim.

Full Text

On January 2, 2023, a leaked CCTV video of a doctor punching his patient at Ndemban Hospital in Bakau was shared on Facebook by What’s On – Gambia with the caption, “here is the CCTV footage showing the Ndemban clinic doctor assaulting his own patient.” The post generated over 1.5k comments, 2.3k engagements, 426 shares, and 116k views.

The released video led to a public uproar because the doctor violated his professional ethics. Facebook user Ousman Baldeh said, “the victim’s family can take legal action against the doctor.” He suggested that the patient’s family should take legal action if the hospital decided to withdraw the investigation.

Investigative committee instituted

Following the public reaction, Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH) launched a committee investigating the matter.

A statement signed by Dr Abubacarr Jagne, Deputy Chief Medical Director (EFSTH), announced an investigative committee but also condemned the incident. The statement also called on the public to be patient as the committee concludes its investigation. It did not provide, at least publicly, any timelines for the committee members to present its final report.

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Press release on the committee to investigate the matter. Image source: EFSTH Facebook

Just when the public was anxiously waiting for an official report from the committee,

What’s On – Gambia, a popular Facebook page owned and run by an anonymous group, announced what it claimed to be the outcome of the committee’s investigation.

The announcement in part said:  “Dr Ahmad Samateh and his team have pardoned ‘the Ndemban Clinic’ doctor who was captured in a CCTV camera punching his patient in his face.”

Again, on January 10, 2023, What’s On – Gambia also shared audio on its page claiming that it was the audio of the Chief Medical Director at the EFSTH, Dr Ammar Al Jafari saying the doctor in question will not be punished.

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Facebook user Sukai Jarjusey wrote, “Not a surprise! He knew he would get away with it. That’s why he acted indisciplined. So sad that ordinary and less privileged Gambians will always have to pay the price.”

Verification

DUBAWA decided to interrogate the matter to ascertain if the doctor in question had been pardoned and to authenticate the voice in the audio. Attempts by DUBAWA to find the name of the doctor in question proved futile because authorities said, for security reasons, they would not disclose his name at least until investigations were over.

Is the voice in the What’s On – Gambia post that of Dr Ammar?

DUBAWA could not confirm the voice behind the post shared by What’s On – Gambia. The fact-checker contacted What’s On – Gambia, who reported the incident, to provide evidence about the claim. However, after reaching out, the group responded cryptically, stating, “They are investigating it.”

A screenshot of the message sent to What’s On – Gambia and their response.

DUBAWA further sought to confirm from the hospital if the voice behind the audio indeed belonged to Dr Ammar. They would not respond directly to that; however, they stated that investigations are still ongoing and a response will be sent out when it is concluded.

An email response from the hospital.

Has the Ndemban Clinic doctor who was captured punching his patient been pardoned?

DUBAWA sent an email to the Public Relations Officer (PRO), Jalimory Njie, at Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH), who has set up a committee to investigate the case.

According to Mr Njie, “the management has formed an investigation panel. The team even came to the EFSTH’s main hospital in Banjul to conduct interviews. So it is incorrect to assume that there is no investigation into the issue. I am stating for a record; neither Dr Samateh nor the Ministry of Health has any influence whatsoever in the conduct of the investigation into the issue.”

‘Punching doctor’ in ‘Ndemban Hospital’ case not pardoned by Health Minister
Screenshot of the email conversation with the PRO of EFSTH. 

He added, “What follows is that the hospital management met and decided to investigate the issue surrounding the incident. The investigation is going on. These claims are not factual, and I don’t know why What’s On – Gambia is dragging the Minister and his Ministry into this issue,” the hospital PRO said.

The Rebuttal Press Release

What’s the Health Minister’s response to the claim?

DUBAWA contacted the Ministry of Health for comments on the allegations against Dr Samateh. Dr Mustapha Bittage, the Director of Health Services at the Ministry of Health who spoke on behalf of the Health Minister, describes the claim as misleading. He said,

“What’s On – Gambia didn’t know the process, which is why they are making such comments. Dr Samateh or the ministry of health has no hand in the investigations, and it is under the hospital. The hospital will investigate and forward a report to the Medical Device Coordination Group (MDCG), which is mandated to take disciplinary action. This does not include the minister having an input. There is a system to be followed.”

He was emphatic, and no decision has been taken to pardon the ‘punching doctor’ nor has the Health Minister meddled in the matter.

Conclusion

The claim that Dr Ahmed Lamin Samateh, the Minister of Health, and his team have decided to pardon the Ndemban Hospital doctor who was captured on CCTV video footage fighting with his patient is false. Information from the hospital authorities clarifies that the minister does not influence investigations.

”The researcher produced this fact-check per the DUBAWA 2023 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with (The Fatu Network) Daily Trust to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.”

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