Realizing patients rights in health facilities
By Florence Nabweteme
Although a huge number of women attend antenatal care, only a few deliver from health facilities with a skilled health care provider. Majority resort to using traditional birth attendants (TBAs), relatives and others take a risk of delivering at home deliver alone. As a result there has been a high prevalence of neonatal tetanus due to unhygienic management of the cord of the newborns.
Over time, health workers at different facilities have also been reported to violate rights of patients. This has partly been due to the fact that most are not aware that patients need to access health services with at most observance of their rights
Against that background, Ministry of Health, in collaboration with Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) and support from World Health Organization (WHO) convened a two-day meeting with health workers from Mukono, Buikwe, Kayunga, Kiboga and Kyankwanzi districts to pre-test a training manual for human rights for health professionals.
The manual domesticates international standards of the right to health and human rights that have been developed by various agencies, including WHO.
The intension of the meeting was to ensure that, the international standards are better understood and applied by health care providers and health associates during their day-to-day work.
The Ministry of Health with other stakeholders embarked on a campaign to improve among others service delivery at health centers, maternal health and encourage expectant women to deliver from health facilities.
This was through creating an understanding of what human rights are, what amounts to a human rights violation and what health workers can do to avoid violations when treating patients thus increasing the capacity of health workers and other stakeholders in providing basic health care without abuse of human rights.
The pre-testing of the manual gave an opportunity to the health workers to reflect on various issues relating to human rights based approach to accessing health services at health centers. They were also given an opportunity to discuss the applicability of Patient’s rights given the availability of limited resources at the facilities.
It also came out significantly that health workers also need a law to serve as a redress mechanism from situations where a patient’s rights have been observed at the expense or forbearance of the health worker’s rights.