The coordinator of the Research Management pillar at the Citizen Observatory for Health (OCS), Clélia Liquela Pondja, calls for urgent elimination of barriers based on clothing and appearance on the access to health facilities.  

The researcher, who was speaking at the National Conference on Access to Health, stressed that the measure that eliminates the barrier on access to health units based on clothing is still unknown among users, as well as among the health service workers themselves.

“These barriers violate the rights enshrined in the Mozambican Constitution”, Clélia said, adding that “after monitoring the process of the ministerial order on the elimination of barriers, it was observed that the measure of the new order in force still lacks promotion and innovative strategies for its implementation.”

The new order, from April 12, 2021, removes all barriers that limited people from accessing health facilities because of their clothing: short dresses and skirts, strapless blouses, shorts, slippers, dreadlocks, among others.

Clélia Liquela Pondja

According to the researcher, the disclosure of this order will allow users to have access to information about the elimination of “prohibitive and segregationist measures, justified by the type of clothing and appearance.”

“The new order in force needs greater promotion so that everyone – users and health professionals – are aware of its existence and know that each and every citizen can have access to any service in the health unit, without any restriction due to their clothing and appearance”, she stressed.

According to Clélia Pondja, it was not found, in any health unit visited, evidence of the dissemination of the new order through the usual mechanisms, such as: the posting of information on showcases and boards, as well as through awareness lectures, used in those instances.

Thus, the researcher wants the Ministry of Health, through the National Directorate of Medical Assistance and the Clinical Directorates of Hospitals, to disseminate the strategies for implementation of the measures of the new order in force.

“This is to allow them to be enforced, creating practical mechanisms of coercion for those who transgress the norms, without neglecting the vehicles for participation of non-compliance with the measures by users and users of the National Health System”, the researcher says.  

The researcher also proposes the establishment of communication mechanism with other Civil Society Organizations, in order to produce evidence and create mechanisms to monitor the implementation and dissemination of the measure in public places, with emphasis on the media.

This strategy, argues the coordinator, is crucial for the production of objective and irrefutable evidence to guide advocacy actions with positive impacts for the improvement of quality and equity in the provision of health care in the country, with the purpose of changing and updating the Charter of Rights and Duties of Patients, and, consequently, the revision of public health policies in Mozambique.

The OCS began to monitor the ministerial order in 2019, when it realized that there was a prohibition/barrier imposed by clothing and user fees in public hospitals.

Once the first study was carried out, the OCS was able to get the Ministry of Health to produce an order that removes all the imposed barriers in hospitals. However, the current discussion is related to the poor dissemination of information for the knowledge of users and health agents.

According to the researcher, the disclosure of this order will allow users to have access to information about the elimination of “prohibitive and segregationist measures, justified by the type of clothing and appearance.”

“The new order in force needs greater promotion so that everyone – users and health professionals – are aware of its existence and know that each and every citizen can have access to any service in the health unit, without any restriction due to their clothing and appearance”, she stressed.

According to Clélia Pondja, it was not found, in any health unit visited, evidence of the dissemination of the new order through the usual mechanisms, such as: the posting of information on showcases and boards, as well as through awareness lectures, used in those instances.

Thus, the researcher wants the Ministry of Health, through the National Directorate of Medical Assistance and the Clinical Directorates of Hospitals, to disseminate the strategies for implementation of the measures of the new order in force.

“This is to allow them to be enforced, creating practical mechanisms of coercion for those who transgress the norms, without neglecting the vehicles for participation of non-compliance with the measures by users and users of the National Health System”, the researcher says.  

The researcher also proposes the establishment of communication mechanism with other Civil Society Organizations, in order to produce evidence and create mechanisms to monitor the implementation and dissemination of the measure in public places, with emphasis on the media.

This strategy, argues the coordinator, is crucial for the production of objective and irrefutable evidence to guide advocacy actions with positive impacts for the improvement of quality and equity in the provision of health care in the country, with the purpose of changing and updating the Charter of Rights and Duties of Patients, and, consequently, the revision of public health policies in Mozambique.

The OCS began to monitor the ministerial order in 2019, when it realized that there was a prohibition/barrier imposed by clothing and user fees in public hospitals.

Once the first study was carried out, the OCS was able to get the Ministry of Health to produce an order that removes all the imposed barriers in hospitals. However, the current discussion is related to the poor dissemination of information for the knowledge of users and health agents.

On the same occasion, another study on the social audit as a crucial instrument for the empowerment of communities was presented by the program manager of OCS, Sidónio Tembe, sharing experiences in the use of the instrument.

Sidónio Tembe

“The social audit aims to ensure that project implementation is transparent and known by all, as well as increases public participation at all stages of the project cycle”, the manager said.

The social audit, according to Tembe, is intended to increase social responsibility and accountability, ensuring that projects are not left incomplete.

“The instrument also serves to identify, control, and report irregularities, as well as prevent the misuse of funds diverted for acts of corruption”, he added, stressing that the same instrument serves to measure the impact of projects and enable people to exercise their rights.

The National Health Conference – an event held by the Citizen Observatory for Health, funded by the European Union – lasts for two days (June 30 and July 1). In the conference, different studies have been present, ranging from User Fees (experience of Mozambique, Uganda and South Africa), Sale of Medicines in the Informal Market, Access to Medicines for People with Disabilities, and Mechanisms for Performing Social Auditing.

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