Amnesty International Kenya has unveiled a mechanism dubbed ‘Maternal Health Justice’ initiative to empower women seeking delivery services in public health facilities know their rights.
The information and solutions provided through the initiative are geared towards helping expectant women address the challenges they face during labour and delivery.
Speaking during a sensitization meeting for slum women at Laico Hotel in Nairobi on Thursday, Amnesty International Kenya Representative Mary Wanjiru said there is need for the health sector to address the various challenges women go through in their lives.
She cited rape cases, early marriages, and mistreatment from parents, torture, assault and mental health as some of the experiences that affect women’s health in the slums.
“If these issues are not addressed by the relevant authorities these women will continue to suffer a lot. I encourage you to be aware of your rights as women so that you may be able to handle the challenges you face,” said Wanjiru.
“We are here to tell the truth; it is a struggle that women go through stigma when you tell somebody your story at the end of it you are taken as culprit than a victim. To speak is not enough but our voices are going to count,” she added.
A representative from Kenya Medical Associations Elizabeth Gitau stressed the need to put the necessary measures in place to prevent abuses from violent nurses who molest women during delivery by giving them training on human rights and how to handle expectant mothers professionally.
“We want nurses handling expectant mothers to have name tags so that they can be identified easily by patients,” she added.
Ms. Gitau said patients deserve good services from public hospitals and called on medical staff supervisors to constantly monitor how nurses handle patients.
She said hospitals should also provide patients with the right to information, allow them to see and hold their newborn babies and for those whose babies die they be given the right to bury and grieve, as well as give them the right to choose what should be done with the body.
Narrating her story Celestin Atieno, aged 35 from Kibra slums told the gathering that her delivery is normally complicated, she bleeds a lot and when delivering her third child she had difficulties that prompted premature labour at eight months.
“I remember the doctor instructing the nurse to stay close to me and monitor the progression of my labour in the middle of the night, during the moment I felt extremely uncomfortable and called out for help but the nurse kept dismissing my distress calls,” she lamented.
Atieno said, “I delivered by myself and my daughter passed on shortly afterwards. It took me three days to locate my daughter’s body at the hospital. The hospital tried to prevent my husband and I from taking the body home for burial”.
By Isaac Wafula and Bernadette Khaduli