A local organization that fight for women’s rights has asked Neno district hospital officials to investigate reports that a woman was sexually abused by a male nurse at the hospital when she went for cervical cancer screening.
This was revealed during an interface meeting organized by the organisation, Neno Women Forum, with officials from Neno District Hospital, District Health Committee and women who claim to have been mistreated by some health personnel when they went to access different health services at the hospital.
During the meeting, one of the women told the gathering that on 10th August, 2018 she went for cervical cancer screening after hearing massive cancer screening campaign messages and at the screening room she found a male nurse who started touching her sexually.
“He continued touching me sexually while telling me that I am so attractive and beautiful. When I realized that he was up to something I raised my voice then he stopped and told me not to tell anyone when I get outside,” she narrated.
Another woman in her 20s also complained that on 27th February, 2018 she delivered her twins at the hospital’s bathroom after another nurse who was on duty that time chased her out of delivery section that she should go to waiting room because her time was not due.
Neno Women Forum Director Lucy Howa said they have received almost 11 complaints this year alone from women in the district who claimed to have been mistreated or abused by health personnel at Neno District Hospital and Ligowe Health Centre.
“This is why we organized this interface meeting so that top officials from the hospital and councilors from health committee should hear it themselves from the mouths of the women who have been complaining of mistreatment at the hospital,” said Howa.
She added that as a women rights group they will follow up and make sure that those found in the wrong should face justice.
“Our aim is not to influence punishment to those found in the wrong but we want our hospitals to provide friendly services to our women in the district,” she added.
District Health Committee chairperson, councilor Macpherson Dzimazi of Chikonde ward said he will take the matter to a district full council meeting to seek collective efforts and end the misconduct.
He however urged women in the district to report to authorities once they feel mistreated or receive substandard services from health care providers.
Neno District Medical Officer Enock Ndalama who was in attendance during the meeting promised to investigate further their staff who were named to have been involved in the misconduct.
Ndalama said the hospital is currently facing shortage of staff and that is why the male nurse was found alone on duty at cancer screening room.
“In normal circumstances if its male nurse on duty at cancer screening there is always a female worker on his side, either hospital attendant or a fellow nurse, but we are currently facing shortage of staff in all sectors at the hospital to the extent that we sometimes we hire students who have been approved by medical or midwifery council to have completed their training and examination and waiting for posting,” said Ndalama.
Ndalama however said some of the complaints raised during the meeting lack substantial evidence because either they were not reported on time or there was just misunderstanding between the health provider and the patients.
He also told the gathering that soon the an ombudsman office will be instituted at the hospital that will make it easy for people to lodge complaints once they feel mistreated or not attended by health providers in the district.