A World Health Organisation (WHO) study has revealed that more than one-third of women in Nigeria and other lower-income countries, experience maltreatment during childbirth in hospitals.
The WHO-led study published on Wednesday in the Lancet, was conducted in four countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Myanmar, and Guinea.
According to the report, 838 of women, which represents 42 per cent of a total of 2,016, experienced physical or verbal abuse, stigma or discrimination, while 14 per cent experienced physical abuse, which include being slapped, hit or punched.
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The study said that women who are younger, less-educated were more at risk of bad treatment, which are physical and verbal abuse, stigmatisation and discrimination.
It also said medical procedures could be carried out without their consent, adding that force could be used on them during the procedures, while they suffer abandonment or neglect by health care workers.
The study also noted that high rates of non-consensual caesarean sections are carried out on them, as well as episiotomies; which is surgical cuts made at the opening of the vagina during childbirth and vaginal examinations.
The study is said to have observed 2,016 women during labour and childbirth in Ghana, Guinea, Myanmar.
Interviews were also conducted with 2,672 women after the birth, with findings showing similar levels of bad treatment.
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“Among the 2016 women observed by the researchers, 35 (13 per cent) caesarean births were conducted without the woman’s consent, as were 190 of 253 episiotomies (75 per cent). Vaginal examinations also occurred without consent in 59 per cent of cases (2611 of 4393 exams),” it stated.
The report added that in addition to physical abuse, 38 per cent of the women studied in 2016, were found to have experienced high levels of verbal abuse.
According to WHO, the women were most often being shouted at, scolded and mocked.
It further noted that eleven women experienced stigma or discrimination because of their race or ethnicity.
The revelations contravenes WHO guidelines, which promote respectful maternity care for all women.
WHO recommends care that maintains “dignity, privacy and confidentiality, ensures freedom from harm and mistreatment, and enables informed choice and continuous support during labour and childbirth”.