By Patience Nyangove, recently in Liverpool, UK
THERE is need for Namibia to train its public health care staff on the care of patients from marginalised communities like the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex and others (LGBTQI+) in order to bring to an end their rampant discrimination and humiliation, the Deputy Director General- Programmes for the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Soumya Swaminathan has said.
Speaking to Confidente during the sidelines of the fifth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research that brought over 1 000 delegates from research, policy and practice backgrounds to Liverpool, England, last week Dr Swaminathan said WHO can assist Namibia with training programmes for its public health care staff in order to bring to an end the practice of ill-treatment of patients.
Confidente recently reported that the overt discrimination and humiliation of the LGBTQI+ is understood to have forced some members of the community to commit suicide. Although the country’s constitution is explicit when it comes to non-discrimination on the basis of sex, it is sadly quiet on the issue of discrimination on grounds of one’s sexual orientation. It has become a common practice for some health personnel at public health care centres to be homophobic by denying patients from the LGBTQI+ community the privacy and dignity every other patient is accorded while seeking medical treatment.
Some of the unethical conduct by nurses during consultation, for instance with a gay patient who has anal herpes, includes the health official calling others into the consultation room before passing degrading homophobic comments.
“Discrimination of patients by health care staff is quite common across the world and it is taking us a long time to change. WHO’s stance is that there should be zero discrimination in the health system. The basic principle of non-discrimination should come from the health ministry and they can do this by training of health staff. WHO is against all discrimination and they’re tools WHO can help with the training of the Namibia’s public health care workers not to discriminate patients based on their sexual orientation and it’s important for health care staff to get this training,” said Dr Swaminathan.
Commenting on the cholera and hepatitis E outbreaks that continue to affect Namibia, Dr Swaminathan said it was vital for the country to identify its source of contamination and work on ensuring that its entire people are protected.
The hepatitis E outbreak last month saw 3 000 suspected cases reported in the country’s nine regions. The hepatitis E outbreak was first reported in October 2017.
The outbreak is concentrated in the informal settlements of Havana, Goreangab, Hakahana, Greenwell Matongo, Ombili and the broader Katutura in Windhoek.
Hepatitis E is a liver infection spread either by direct contact with an infected person’s faeces or by indirect faecal contamination of food or water. Infection is more severe among pregnant women as they are at greater risk of acute liver failure, foetal loss and death.
The outbreak is fuelled mainly by a lack of clean water, poor sanitation and poor personal hygiene.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015