More than 1/3rd of new mothers in 4 poor countries are abused during childbirth, a study published Wednesday in the medical journal The Lancet.
The latest study, which carried out in Ghana, Guinea, Myanmar, and Nigeria by the World Health Organization, found that 42 percent of the women experienced physical or verbal abuse or some type of stigma or separation at maternity health offices.
The study has also found that, a huge number of cesarean sections, vaginal exams, and other procedures being performed without the patient’s consent.
Of the 2,016 women observed for the study, 14 percent said that they were either slapped, hit or punched during the childbirth.
Some 38 percent of the women said that they were subjected to verbal abuse, most often by being shouted at, mocked or scolded.
An alarming 75 percent had episiotomies performed without consent. The process involves surgically enlarging the opening of the vagina.
The authors of the study urged officials to hold those who mistreat women during the childbirth accountable. They also urged that the governments to put into the place clear policies and sufficient resources to ensure that women have a safe place to give birth.
Among the specific steps told by the study are: making sure that all the medical procedures are performed only after getting an informed consent; allowing the patient to have a companion of their choice in the delivery room; redesigning maternity wards to offer the maximum privacy; and making sure that no health facility tolerates instances of the physical or the verbal abuse.
In 2014, the World Health Organisation issued a statement on the prevention and also the elimination of disrespect and abuse during the facility-based childbirth.
The WHO statement positioned mistreatment during the childbirth as a violation of rights and the trust between women and their healthcare providers. It has also called for greater action, dialogue, research, and advocacy.