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Stakeholders meet on healthcare violations

Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) has for the past two days trained human rights defenders, health professionals, legal experts and other stakeholders in the provision of health services in the use people’s complaints to address healthcare violations.

SALC conducted research on accountability and redress for discrimination in healthcare systems in Malawi, Zambia and Botswana and identified a number of processes outside of the courts and available at local levels for healthcare users to seek accountability and redress when experiencing human rights violations and discrimination in healthcare.

The research, however, indicated that there is a capacity gap amongst community-based organisations and non-governmental organisations in human rights, health rights, key populations and vulnerable populations, in effective and safe use of complaints processes to advance accountability and redress when violations and discrimination occur in healthcare settings.

One of the participants in the meeting, Federation of Disability Organisations in Malawi (Fedoma) Executive Director, Action Amos, said some people with disabilities, including those who are epileptic and those with mental disorders, are exposed to a lot of discrimination in the country.

“It is always difficult for those people who are epileptic to access drugs in public hospitals and they are usually told that there are no such drugs and sometimes they are referred to private pharmacies where drugs are more expensive. For those people who have mental disorders, their treatment is even worse and the are told to go to Zomba, which is far away from their respective homes,” Amos said.

Some participants also said people who are HIV positive are usually discriminated against and healthcare workers attack them through all sorts of insults pertaining to their sero-status.

In the research that SALC conducted, it was found that healthcare workers and institutions violate users rights through treatment denial, use of abusive language, failure to properly examine healthcare users before providing treatment, sexual coercion and abuse and physical abuse such as slapping and hitting.

The study also found that health workers and institutions fail to observe healthcare users’ confidentiality, fail to conduct proper informed consent procedures and also fail to provide reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities.

The SALC is a regional non-profit organisation that works to advance human rights and protect the rule of law in Southern Africa and is hosting training meetings in Malawi, Botswana and Zambia on “using complaints to address healthcare violations” with funding from the African Regional Grant on HIV.

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