Clinic upholds patients' right to privacy

Thursday 13 August 2015

Chitsungo Rural Health Centre (RHC) in Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe district in Zimbabwe has sub-divided its main maternity room in response to patients’ demands for privacy, in line with the provisions of the Patients’ Charter. This development is in response to community demands for privacy which was made through the Health Centre Committee which was training and supported by Save the Children.

Chitsungo RHC had very few rooms and this compromised on the patients’ right to privacy. Prior to the sub-division, one of the rooms was housing pregnant women waiting to deliver, those going through delivery and those who have delivered their babies.

 “Our patients now understand their rights and they have demanded for their right to privacy through their Health Centre Committee. In response to these demands, we have finished sub- dividing the main clinic from the previous four rooms into a six roomed clinic,” says Susan Dziike, a nurse at Chitsungo clinic. Besides violating Patients’ right to privacy, Sister Dziike said it was difficult for clinic staff to offer good quality services especially to mothers who delivered at the clinic, as they were being discharged from the clinic three hours after delivery.

 “The room was too open and it compromised on patients’ privacy. People admitted at the clinic could hear discussions going on between the nurse and patients. The labour ward was also in the open and a curtain would be used to cover the patient going through delivery,” added Christopher Munyangamira the Chitsungo RHC HCC Treasurer.

Under the Strengthening Community Participation in Health project, Health Literacy Facilitators are conducting community health education sessions where they are teaching community members about their rights and responsibilities in relation to health services.  They also distribute copies of the Patients Charter, go through all its provisions and discuss how these rights are translated at their own local rural health centre. Following these sessions, community members then measure or assess how their RHC is complying with these provisions. Community members also discuss and agree on what they regard as good quality health services and then compare these with the services that they are getting at their RHC. Prioritised issues are then taken up by the HCC and actions to address these are taken either at the RHC or at district level.

During Scorecard administration and community education session in most villages around Chitsungo clinic, community members indicated that the open rooms at their RHC were compromising on their rights to privacy and they demanded that this issue be addressed. The issue was brought to the attention of the Health Centre Committee and it was agreed that the clinic be demarcated to address the patients’ demands and also improve on service delivery.

The subdivision of the clinic rooms has not only helped to promote patients’ privacy, but has also helped the clinic staff to effectively offer post-natal services.“We now have the chance to monitor mothers’ post delivery because they will be at the clinic with us. We are now able to detain them for three days to monitor their blood pressure, temperature and the baby as well,” said sister Dziike.