Home Opinion and Features Make women’s reproductive rights a reality

Make women’s reproductive rights a reality

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It baffles the mind how nurses could kick out a woman they identified as a high-risk patient without at least examining her first

Image: Pixabay

THIS year marks the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development, a 1994 meeting in Cairo, Egypt, where 179 governments adopted a revolutionary Programme of Action calling for women’s reproductive health and rights to take centre stage in national and global development efforts.

On Thursday, as the world observes World Population Day, a call has been made on world leaders and policymakers to help make reproductive health and rights a reality for all – a profound call, as women’s reproductive health and rights continue to be ignored in many societies, including here at home.

Last week, the spotlight was cast on the Stanza Bopape Community Health Centre in Mamelodi, Pretoria, where Elina Maseko was subjected to terrible, inhumane treatment by nursing sisters.

The 47-year-old woman was forced to give birth outside the clinic after nurses apparently refused to attend to her, simply turning their backs on the basis that she was a high-risk case due to her advanced age.

That was a truly saddening story considering that anything could have happened to Maseko or her baby.

It baffles the mind how nurses could kick out a woman they identified as a high-risk patient without at least examining her first.

Maseko’s constitutional rights to dignity and to health were infringed.

She was also discriminated against based on her age.

The nurses could argue that owing to the high number of medical negligence cases against the Gauteng Department of Health, they were merely protecting themselves and avoiding a situation that could have landed them in trouble.

But aren’t nurses required to “do good and choose the best option of care under given circumstances”, and to “act with kindness at all times”, as per their code of ethics?

As is the case with most incidents, health officials said they were saddened by the incident and that an investigation had been launched.

However, while launching an investigation into the treatment Maseko received is a great move, more should be done to ensure that other women are not also subjected to such treatment.

The call for this year’s World Population Day is to make reproductive health and rights a reality for all.

Let’s honour that.