… a third have seen mistreatment of patients
By Patience Nyangove recently in Liverpool, UK
POOR quality of care that includes abusive care by public health care workers in African countries has led to more pregnant women shunning accessing pre and neo-natal services at the public primary health care facilities in the process endangering their lives as well as their unborn babies.
The above came out during a session on improving sexual and maternal, neonatal and child health services from presentations conducted by health experts during the fifth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research held in Liverpool earlier this month. The symposium was held under the theme: “Advancing health systems for all in the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) era that drew hundreds of health experts and researchers during the weeklong event.
Lorretta Ntoimo from the Federal university of Oye-Ekiti and Women’s Health and Action Research Centre in Nigeria during her presentation on why women do not use primary health centres for skilled pregnancy care in rural Nigeria she outlined that abusive health care workers topped the list on the reasons why pregnant women shun using primary health centres.
“Like the time I gave birth, I was in labour, by the time I was pushing for the baby to come out I did not see the nurses again. I started shouting on them to come…When they heard that, they came and started telling me that they are sorry, with that kind of experience I don’t think I will go there next time,” the presentation quotes a 31 year old woman.
The study also attributes reasons of lesser pregnant women using primary health centres to incompetent providers, lack of drugs and consumables, inadequate health care workers that are not always available as well as long waiting periods.
Another study done in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province presented also shows that long waiting times and stock outs of vaccines and other supplies are health system barriers deterring pregnant women and mothers from seeking services at public health centres.
Cases of public health care workers ill-treating patients are also quite common in Namibia where pregnant women in some cases have been left to give birth on their own at public health facilities.
A study entitled “Provider and client perspectives on maternity care in Namibia: results from two cross-sectional studies,” by Jennifer Wesson Ndapewa Hamunime, Claire Viadro, Martha Carlough, Puumue Katjiuanjo, Pamela McQuide and Pearl Kalimugogo made public online on 5 September 2018 that involved medical officers, matrons, and registered or enrolled nurses working in Namibia’s 35 district and referral hospitals shows that 49 percent of public health care workers admitted to yelling at a woman in labour.
“Most participants in the health worker study were experienced maternity care nurses. One-third (31 percent) of survey respondents reported witnessing or knowing of client mistreatment at their hospital, about half (49 percent) agreed that “sometimes you have to yell at a woman in labor,” and a third (30 percent) agreed that pinching or slapping a laboring woman can make her push harder,” the study states.
The study further states that respondents who were dissatisfied with their workload were twice as likely to approve of pinching or slapping women in labour.
“Half of the nurses surveyed (versus 14 percent of medical officers) reported providing care above or beneath their scope of work. The community focus group study identified 14 negative practices affecting clients’ maternity care experiences, including both systemic and health-worker-related practices.”
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