When maternal death occasioned by medical negligence occur, three categories of people with different perspectives are likely to emerge.
The first category is likely to see the death as ‘natural’, wrap it up for quick burial, mourn and move on with life. To this category of people, the concept of right is lost on them and destiny is emphasized.
Their slogan? “God knows best.”
The second category is aware of their rights but unwilling to take action. To them, any benefit attached to exercising their right is coming a tad late.
Their question? “Will my taking action bring her back to life?”
The third and final category of people knows their rights, are willing to take action but just don’t know how to go about it. If they are fortunate enough to know someone in the traditional media, their stories get blown up but like everything without passion and sales as a major consideration, the stories die a natural death. The relatives, disillusioned, reverts to category one’s slogan of “God knows best.”
Their consolation? “God will fight for us”
From the lack of knowledge about basic rights to the lack of courage to speak up in the face of overwhelming silence and the unavailability or ineffectiveness of grievance channels and procedures, challenges related to medical negligence have continued to ‘help’ maternal death rates remain on the increase in Nigeria. While identifying these challenges may seem easy, overcoming them has not come easy.
Teaching and advising individuals and relatives of victims about their rights, ensuring that individuals understand that the action of one can save thousands of lives and the setting up of an organization to provide justice support services for victims at no cost to them are some of the strategies I have employed to overcome these challenges. Last week, I was able to assist a victim’s family file a Five Billion Naira suit (about 32 Million dollars) against a negligent hospital. In cases like this, it’s not so much for the money but the deterrent capacity of the action. Health service providers must live up to their responsibilities!
On social media such as Facebook and Twitter, I use the stories of victims to drive home the reality of maternal deaths and make people understand that inaction is not an option.
On PulseWire, I see the opportunity to learn, motivate and voice out. For victims who do not know their rights, I learn innovative ways of teaching them and get support too. For instance, I have met Marissa who is working with me to create a theme for a drama competition amongst secondary school students to promote maternal rights and welfare. For those who will rather not take action, this platform gives me an opportunity to motivate them and for those who want to take action but do not know how, with PulseWire, I can voice out on their behalf.
All around me, in my fight against maternal mortality, I see possibilities, never challenges…
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Challenges and Solutions to Creating Change.