In Summary
  • Researchers interviewed 641 mothers at 13 purposely selected facilities in Kisumu, Kiambu, Nyandarua and Uasin Gishu, and one maternity hospital in Nairobi.
  • “Understanding the prevalence of disrespect and abuse is critical in developing interventions at national, health facility and community levels,” the report says.
  • It asserts that disrespect and abuse in childbirth is a critical but little discussed subject which is a major barrier in helping increase the number of expectant mothers who seek medical assistance, with many unaware that what they go through is a serious human rights violation as well as criminal in nature.

One in five women suffers severe physical and verbal abuse during labour and delivery at public hospitals, a new study says.

The study, funded by the United States Agency for International Development, says the government’s pledge to provide free maternity services is hampered by rude and violent health workers who make women shun hospitals, endangering their babies’ as well as their own lives.

Researchers interviewed 641 mothers at 13 purposely selected facilities in Kisumu, Kiambu, Nyandarua and Uasin Gishu, and one maternity hospital in Nairobi.

The study says the presence of spouses in the delivery room could curb the “mistreatment” and is now considered a norm by mothers.

It says key manifestations of abuse include pinching, slapping and beating, non-consensual care (coerced Caesarean sections), non-dignified care, verbal abuse, discrimination towards poor and young mothers, abandonment of women during and after labour, and detention because of inability to pay hospital fees.

The research protocol approved by the Division of Reproductive Health, Ministry of Health, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Ethical Review Board and the Population Council’s Institutional Review Board urges an open reporting system that will help the Health ministry formulate measures to curb the abuse.

FEAR OF BEING INSULTED

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