Respectful Maternity Care Session Conducted at a Maternity Facility in Lahore, Pakistan
By Waqas Akhtar, Health Project Officer, Muslim Charity
Muslim Charity, a faith-based INGO registered in the in UK is running a maternity care program which supports five hospitals in Pakistan. Recently Muslim Charity facilitated an interactive session on respectful maternity care at one of Muslim Charity-supported maternity facilities in possibly the most deprived area of Lahore, Pakistan. The session, attended by administrative and clinical staff including the pharmacy team, aimed to introduce a rights-based approach to maternity care by introducing the Respectful Maternity Care (RMC) Charter developed by the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood.
Initially some barriers were erected by attendees, particularly on the notion that an approach based on women’s rights might not be practically applicable in the local context, especially given the prevalence of illiteracy in the host community. Questions were also raised on whether the Pakistan government is signatory to the various international conventions and other international documents that the RMC Charter is based on. However, eventually an agreement was reached that all rights were applicable in principle and that there exists a dire need to address common abusive practices such as poor attitude of maternity teams towards patients, which include shouting.
To address such abuses facility staff suggested an approach that would identify the roles of the various stakeholders who must be engaged and eventually held accountable, in order to successfully serve the maternity rights of the child bearing women at the Muslim Charity facility. This approach would target providers as well as community members. Scope and responsibilities of each group towards maternity rights and towards each other were identified on a provisional level and work is soon to commence in defining the roles and responsibilities of various actors in more detail.
The issue of raising awareness of maternity rights amongst the community was explored. It was identified that in its current form the RMC Charter would be almost incommunicable to community members primarily due to language and overall literacy constraints. The need to translate RMC print materials into Urdu and using pictorial language (posters/leaflets) was seen as crucial.
There is a huge scope for RMC advocacy to be deployed in Pakistan. A closer liaison between Muslim Charity Pakistan and WRA in Pakistan can yield positive results. Muslim Charity is certainly excited about the potential for good work in Pakistan and possibly in its other projects in East Africa, especially Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia.