Hospital Sit-In Attracts Nurses’ Attention

A group of women who protested at the Katutura State Hospital Antenatal Clinic this morning were caught off-guard when they received support from nurses working at the clinic.

The protesters, who came to demonstrate against the alleged sterilization of HIV positive women in state hospitals, were surprised by the cooperation of the nurses at the clinic who listened to the message of patient’s rights and accepted piles of leaflets to distribute to patients.

The couple dozen women, who were demonstrating in solidarity with three women who were bringing their court case to the High Court of Namibia, also distributed information on the right to health to various patients seeking services at the Antenatal Clinic.

The women’s action was in solidarity with the ongoing court cases at the High Court of Namibia. At the court, three women have sued government for alleged forced or coercive sterilization without their consent.

The Katutura State Hospital sit-in also attracted a number of onlookers. A man in his late thirties whose wife just delivered a baby said that, “this is very wrong, it is a violation against women’ rights and it’s a shame to the nation.”

Some of the women who were demonstrated were interviewed.

Nangula Sheetekela Petrus a group leader of “Together we can make it” support group expressed her concerned.

“We are here at the antenatal clinic because we want the nurses to know that what they did is wrong (the alleged forced sterilisation of HIV women) and this should come to an end.” She also stated that, “the nurses should explain to the people in their mother tongue what sterilisation is. Then the women can understand before the operation is done.”

“There is lack of communication between the health workers and patients which need to be improved,” said Mrs. Petrus.

Another support group leader Stella !Gontes from Tobias Ijogo of Okahandja Park said that there is no communication in the hospitals and the people don’t really understand what sterilization is.

The group leader Veronica Kalambi said that she was happy with the campaign and protest. However Miss Kalambi said that, “we are here because it is at the antenatal where everything starts and right information needs to be communicated.”

Miss Kalambi said she was impressed that the nurses working at the came out, acknowledged the protesters’ presence, and that the nurses said that they have heard the message and will pass it on.

– article contributed by Eunice Mbewe, media studies student, University of Namibia. photo by Mark Nonkes

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