A US missionary with no medical training is being sued by mothers in Uganda who claim her "medical facility" was responsible for the death of their children.
Shortly after leaving Virginia in 2007, Renee Bach founded a private NGO and healthcare facility – Serving His Children (SHC) – in the Jinja town of eastern Uganda to help treat children suffering from severe malnutrition. Two mothers, alongside the Women's Probono Initiative (WPI) in Kampala, have now filed a lawsuit against Bach and her NGO, alleging she was responsible for the death of their children at the "medical facility".
After their children died, they learned that the District Health Officer had allegedly ordered the facility to be closed in 2015. The mothers and the WPI argue they were misled to believe Bach was a “medical doctor”, noting she often wore a white coat and a stethoscope, and was seen administering medications to children despite having no medical license. According to AllAfrica, the complainants also allege that over 100 children passed away while receiving treatment at her NGO.
“There are procedural and regulatory mechanisms that ought to be followed when establishing a medical facility in Uganda. Even so the law provides for licensing agencies and protocols for who should practice medicine in Uganda,” Beatrice Kayaga, an officer at the WPI, said in a press release. “It is unacceptable, narcissistic behavior, for anyone, black or white, rich or poor, missionary or angel to pass off as a ‘medical practitioner’ when they are not. By doing so, they mislead unsuspecting vulnerable members of the public."
"The actions of Renee & SHC have caused so much pain, injustice, a lack of transparency and accountability by the organization Serving His Children. The Judiciary has a role to play in ending this,” she added.
Since-deleted blog posts attributed to Bach, available to read on Internet Archive, suggest she may have been carrying out medical treatment on young children. In one post about a 9-month-old baby with malnutrition, she writes: “I hooked the baby up to oxygen and got to work... As I took her temperature, started an IV, checked her blood sugar, tested for malaria, and looked at her HB count, they began to tell me her story… A story that I feel I have heard many times before. But even though I’ve heard countless similar stories, my heart still breaks every time!”
Nevertheless, SHC denies that Bach ever presented herself as a medical professional or caused the death of any child. In response to an article from 2018, they claim all the treatment was carried out under the supervision of licensed medical professionals. They also state they cared for over 3,500 children, with “a recovery rate of over 96 percent.”
In that 2018 response article, they also said: "It should be noted that Ms. Bach was often asked to come alongside medical staff within health facilities outside of SHCI, both private and government operated, in similar circumstances and while she agreed to help, she never represented herself as a medical professional and was always acting under the supervision of licensed medical personnel."
"When the center was busy, the nurses appreciated the extra hands and Ms. Bach was happy to help."