Ruqayya Wamakko, a medical doctor and the Reproductive Health Coordinator at the FCT Primary Healthcare Development Board, has advised nurses and midwives to stop shaving the pubic hair of women who come to the hospital to deliver of their babies.
She said such practice intrude on their privacy and dissuade them from coming to the health centres to have their babies.
“For you to shave a woman, you have gone far into her privacy,” Wamakko told participants during a three-day workshop on improving quality of maternal and new-born care for health workers in FCT, organised by Inclusive Press with support from Australian Aid/ Australian High Commission in Abuja.
“What we are trying to do now is that we should try as much as we can to cover the privacy of the woman while coming to deliver.”
She said some women do not want to be delivered of their babies because they are scared of being shaved by the nurses.
Preserving a woman’s privacy during pregnancy and childbirth is one of the key elements of respectful maternity care. Respectful maternity care is a fundamental right of women during pregnancy and childbirth.
Wamakko, however, said in cases of surgery, the woman can be shaved in the hospital. “If she is going for surgery, it is better to have that place shaved because when you suture with the hair, it doesn’t heal very well.”
Cecilia Ben, one of the participants from Bwari General Hospital told journalists that the workshop has made her to realise some of the harmful practices that are discouraged by the WHO standards for improving quality of maternal and newborn care in health facilities
“I have also learnt that certain attitude by health providers discourages the patients from coming to hospital and I now know better on how to interact with my patients,” Ben said.
Nigeria is one of the worst places to deliver a baby as the country contributes about 10 percent of global maternal deaths. Part of the problem is that most women do not deliver their babies in health facilities. Disrespect and abuse from health providers in health facilities as well as perceived poor quality of care in health facilities is one of the reasons women do not go to health facilities for deliveries.
Kingsley Mba, a representative of Inclusive Press, said the quality of care is essential in keeping mothers and babies alive during pregnancy and child birth.
He said that with the financial support from the Australian Direct Aid Program through the Australian High Commission in Nigeria, the Inclusive Press was not only training the health workers on respectful maternal care but will also donate basic equipment like delivery beds, delivery kits, sonic aid and screens to ensure that health facilities adhere to the WHO standards for improving quality of maternal and new-born care in health facilities
Mba said the Inclusive Press is engaging decision-makers to make a commitment to improve quality of maternal, new-born and child health services in the country.