Well-being Foundation has expressed concerns that the human rights of women, their babies and their midwives are being violated by the introduction of ‘inappropriate protocols’ for management of pregnancy, birth and postnatal care in response to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
The Founder, Wellbeing Foundation Africa, Toyin Ojora Saraki noted that the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) shares the same concern. She said the “inappropriate protocols” are not based on current reputable evidence and are harmful to the wellbeing of women and their babies.
Saraki said pregnant women around the world are already facing a crisis of uncertainty over where and how to access much needed routine antenatal and postnatal care as health facilities shut their doors to patients except those needing care for severe respiratory symptoms of the covid pandemic.
‘As a woman, as a mother and grandmother, as Global Goodwill Ambassador to the International Confederation of Midwives since 2014, I share, endorse, and give my support to the grave concerns expressed by the ICM which represents over 1 million midwives and 600 country associations in more than 130 countries, that Women’s Rights in Childbirth Must be Upheld During the Coronavirus Pandemic”, Saraki said in a statement issued in Abuja.
She added, ‘In every country and community worldwide, pregnancy and childbirth are momentous events in the lives of women and families and represent a time of intense vulnerability.
“Thus, the notion of safe motherhood must be expanded beyond the prevention of morbidity or mortality to encompass respect for women’s basic human rights including respect for women’s autonomy, dignity, feelings, choices, and preferences, including the right to companionship during maternity care.
“ A childbearing woman’s right to respectful maternity care focuses specifically on the inter-personal aspects of care received by women seeking maternity services.”
Saraki issued a passionate call to policymakers to respect the rights of pregnant women, during the global, regional and national responses to the coronavirus pandemic.
She noted that the WHO recommendations on caring for pregnant and recently pregnant women with COVID-19 insist that to date, there is limited data on clinical presentation and perinatal outcomes after COVID-19 during pregnancy and there is no evidence that pregnant women present with different signs or symptoms or are at higher risk of severe illness, and that considering asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 may be possible in pregnant or recently pregnant women, as with the general population, all women with epidemiologic history of contact should be carefully monitored.
‘‘I urge all policymakers to remember that women’s memories of their childbearing experiences stay with them for a lifetime and are often shared with other women, contributing to a climate of confidence or doubt around childbearing.
‘’As the world unites to combat, contain and control COVID-19, this is not the time to needlessly assault the rights of childbearing women at their most vulnerable point of need, we must respect the rights of a woman in childbirth, during the coronavirus, and always, for every woman, and her newborn, for all, everywhere,” Saraki said.
Godsgift Onyedinefu, Abuja