Women lament intimidation, abuse by government nurses

Government nurses often treat pregnant women with disrespect.

A mother, Aisha Iriyoma on Thursday at the 2013 Safe Motherhood Day commemoration themed ‘A Must for Every Woman’, lamented the constant abuse and intimidation of women by nurses and staff of government hospitals.

Speaking at the event, Mrs. Iriyoma, a member of the National Council of Women Societies, revealed that following these intimidation and lack of patient- hospital staff relationship, most pregnant women prefer to visit private hospitals where they receive adequate care. However, these hospitals are expensive, forcing those who cannot afford them to continue to suffer at the hands of the harsh government health workers.

“When I had my first baby at a private hospital it was smooth. The doctors and nurses there were wonderful and we related very well. I was even eager to go back soon. When I was pregnant with my second child, my husband, a health worker took advice that I should use a government hospital but the experience was so terrible with the nurses and the entire staff that I have vowed never to set my feet into any government hospital. They treat you with contempt and disgust,” Mrs. Iriyoma said

Confirming the challenges faced by women in the hands of health care providers, the chairperson of White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria, Philippa Momah, revealed that her organisation has started a three year campaign to advocate for policy makers and health workers to uphold the universal rights of childbearing women and provide respectful maternity care to all women in Nigeria.

She promised that her organisation will work with women in their communities, states and national stakeholders to ensure that respectful maternity care is embedded at all levels of maternal health system and the right reflected in a sense of entitlement among women.

A health worker at the event, however, countered the women’s claims saying that pregnant women are not patient and do not appreciate health workers despite all the care rendered to them.

Midwives at the event regretted Mrs. Iriyoma’s ordeal and apologized to the women saying, “Our pregnant mothers should please forgive us if we have offended them.” They then promised to treat women better even though they emphasised that midwives attitude towards pregnant women had greatly improved.

Another member of NCWS, Binta Abdullahi, on her part, called on the Nigerian government to build and equip more Primary Health Care facilities to bridge proximity and reduce delay during child delivery. She also admonished women to embrace Family Planning and to be very smart in their dealing with men to avoid the risk of unwanted pregnancies.

Another mother, Monica Sariki, pleaded with government to build more toilets in hospitals. She also encouraged hospital management to maintain a clean environment so as to protect mothers and their newborns.

The Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, represented by his Permanent Secretary, Fatima Bamidele, reminded all that the theme of the event calls on the global community to reflect on various promises made to women two decades ago at the Safe Motherhood Initiative, SMI, including reducing death of pregnant women especially during childbirth. She further stated that Nigeria has been making efforts to make pregnancy safer since the launch of SMI.

Mother kits were distributed to the pregnant women at the event. The programme is expected to continue with a consultative stakeholders meeting on Respectful Maternal Care and an outreach visit to markets in Abuja on June 7 and 8 respectively.

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