New Delhi: Despite greater focus on reducing maternal mortality and promoting safe deliveries, pregnant women admitted to government hospitals face physical and mental abuse at the time of childbirth, a new study found.
Mistreatment, abuse and harsh delivery procedures at hospitals occur in the absence of qualified medical practitioners, said Arnab Dey, a researcher at Sambodhi Research and Communications, who authored the study.
“Health (services) providers at delivery were predominantly staff nurses (88.6%) followed by auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs) (9.4%). Over 94% of the deliveries were conducted by one staff nurse or ANMs supported by an unskilled birth attendant," Dey said in the study.
The study, based on direct observation of deliveries and follow-up interviews with over 900 women delivering in public hospitals, was published in the November issue of BMJ Journal. It was conducted across over 81 public health institutions in Uttar Pradesh, the largest and most populous state in the country that accounts for 18% of all births and 15% of all maternal deaths annually.
“The majority of women (77.3%) self-reported mistreatment by their healthcare provider, most commonly in the areas of non-consensual care or inadequate information provisions regarding treatment or care for them or their child," he said.
The study was conducted by Sambodhi Research and Communications, Noida; University of California; India Health Action Trust, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with the National Health Mission (NHM) of Uttar Pradesh.
Healthcare staff beat or slap women at the time of delivery, applied force to pull the baby during delivery and used caste slurs, the study said. However, many women chose not to report these incidents. Observers deputed by the researchers in the hospitals, reported these cases.
“The issue of mistreatment is common and may be under-reported by women. The issue of under-reporting by women also highlights the need for focused interventions directed towards women and their families so that they appreciate respectful maternal care, demand better quality care, and report poor quality of care experiences when they occur," said Dey.