Attitude of health workers amid maternal and infant mortality

HospitalWORRISOME statistics have been given about the rate of maternal and child deaths in Nigeria, the latest being that 1,000 women out of every 100,000 die during child births and the number of new born that die during or after delivery amounts to 130 per 1000 live birth.

Following that, further reports have revealed facts on why Nigeria has the seventh highest infant mortality rate in the world. Some of the discoveries from these reports focused on poor funding of the health sector, scarcity of qualified doctors as a result of brain drain, inadequate bed space, lack of access to affordable health care, inadequate medical facilities etc.

All these and more can be reasons why women and children die during child birth. From a report obtained in the national dailies, the former Minister of Health, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, once remarked that health workers were largely responsible for the death of patients recorded in various health centres across the country in 2009. T

his report is corroborated with the account given by mothers who go through child delivery in hospitals, especially public hospitals. Nursing mothers have described the poor attitude of some public health workers as one of their greatest nightmares.

They gave this as the reason many women could not make it during delivery. This allegation, however, may seem strong against the health workers but “caution can never be thrown to the wind” if we are to save the lives of our mothers and children.

It is, therefore, a subject that should not be ignored. In fairness to some of the health workers, it is important to state that not all of them are culpable in some of the concerns being widely expressed in the land. It is natural and expected that the personnel who have taken it upon themselves to give care would do so with passion, friendliness, show of love, understanding and consideration.

Expectant mothers have lost their lives and that of their children as a result of neglect, carelessness, rudeness of the health workers and no demonstration of love. One of the expectant mothers who survived this torture narrated her ordeal to me, saying the nurses who attended to her slapped her several times and insulted her for not being able to push”

These attributes are the first call for a health care professional irrespective of his status and knowledge in the medical field. Unfortunately, health workers in most public hospitals have been found to be rude to patients and in most cases, this rudeness aggravates the health of their patients.

On a particular visit to one of the Federal Medical Centres, I came away with many negative impressions about our public hospitals.

One of the things I found there was that the routine check administered by senior doctors for patients on admission was only being done once in a week. The senior doctors who investigate the condition of a patient and recommend further treatment that should be carried out by nurses do not show up until the following week. Unfortunately, to my chagrin, some of the nurses who are to administer treatment do so with apathy.

It is also often noticed that the nurses are usually impatient with patients who may not be responding to treatments. Patients who, because of their sickness, find it difficult to eat or take drugs they give to them are insulted or abandoned.

The patients are treated like criminals, and reminded that they are on their own. As a visitor who couldn’t contain what I saw and who made move to approach the nurses, to my greatest shock, patients appealed to me never to question the actions of the nurses otherwise they would hardly come back to attend to them.

Expectant mothers have lost their lives and that of their children as a result of neglect, carelessness, rudeness of the health workers and no demonstration of love.

One of the expectant mothers who survived this torture narrated her ordeal to me, saying the nurses who attended to her slapped her several times and insulted her for not being able to push. According to her, she was called all sorts of names and that she only loved to enjoy sex with her husband, but to bring out baby she was lazy and unable to do so easily.

It can be recalled that in 2011, one of the national newspapers reported the case of an expectant woman who went to hospital hale and hearty to have her baby.

She was taken back to her home dead. She fell off the theater table. She had severe head injuries which led to complications and her death. She was in hospital for four days. The reports suggested that she was left unassisted during labour.

Another report said a woman who did not agree to her doctor’s suggestion to having her baby through caesarian session was abandoned in the delivery ward for two days; but through resolve and prayers, she managed to deliver safely on her own. She had told the doctor that she would prefer to deliver naturally and that she had the capacity to do so.

It is also often noticed that the nurses are usually impatient with patients who may not be responding to treatments. Patients who, because of their sickness, find it difficult to eat or take drugs they give to them are insulted or abandoned. The patients are treated like criminals, and reminded that they are on their own”

The doctor would not hear of it and told her that she was on her own. After two days of labour, she experienced her amniotic fluid and she began to push. This attracted the attention of other patients in the ward who immediate called for the help of the nurses.

It is believed that many women with her kind of experience may have died in some of our hospitals. There are so many negative and sad experiences our expectant mothers and unborn children go through in many public hospitals in the country. These have to be addressed.

Governments in the land, relevant authorities, medical associations and the Medical Council should take more than casual interest in the experiences of Nigerians in several public hospitals. They should call erring doctors and unfeeling nurses to order or weeded out of the system. • Emejuiwe is Programme Officer, Good Governance, Centre for Social Justice, Abuja. 08068262366.

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