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US missionary faces new legal action over child deaths at Uganda health centre

Alice McCool in Kampala
·2-min read

Four Ugandan families are taking legal action against an American missionary accused of taking part in treatments at a religious health centre she ran, despite having no medical qualifications.

Renee Bach founded the now defunct Serving His Children (SHC) centre in Jinja, a city in east Uganda, where the families took their children, three of whom later died.

Documents, endorsed by Jinja high court this month after being filed last year, say the children died after receiving treatment at the centre, and that a fourth child who had surgery there has an impaired limb and other health problems.

Related: US missionary accused over Uganda child deaths settles out of court

At least 105 children died at the centre over several years.

The lawsuit is seeking compensation for the four families, as well as an order for Bach to publicly apologise, “including acknowledgment of the facts and acceptance of the responsibility for the violation of the right to appropriate healthcare and life of the children that she attended to”.

The suit also requests the court to order criminal sanctions against Bach.

Lukiya Nakaja, whose daughter Eva died in 2013, said: “I was angry when I found out Renee is not a doctor.”

In her affidavit, Nakaja claims Bach connected Eva to oxygen, gave the child tablets and inserted tubes into her nose without explanation.

Nakaja told the Guardian her marriage fell apart after Eva’s death and she struggles to support her family.

Last year Bach settled a civil case involving the mothers of two children who died after receiving care at SHC. Without admitting liability, Bach and SHC agreed to pay Zubeda Gimbo and Annet Kakai 35m Uganda shillings (£7,335) each in damages.

SHC and Bach’s lawyer, David Gibbs, have always vigorously defended Bach’s work.

In a statement last year, SHC denied that Bach passed herself off as a doctor, but admitted she regularly assisted in “crisis situations” using “skills” learned from Ugandan healthcare professionals.

The Guardian approached Gibbs for comment on the latest action.

Robert Okot, the lawyer representing the four families in the new case, said: “We hope there will be justice for these affected families, and that it will be a deterrent measure for people who abuse development work.”