The Maputo Provincial Office for Combating Corruption (GPCCM) – through case 98/10/P/GPCCM/2023 – has recently made six maternal and child health nurses at Matola Provincial Hospital, in the southern province of Maputo, defendants for being involved in illicit charges against a patient.
According to the GPCCM, the victim, who had gone to the maternity ward of that hospital to go into labour, was charged 1,000 (one thousand meticais) to receive “special” treatment. However, since she had no money, she was mistreated at the point of losing her newborn baby.
The GPCCM then learnt of the case and accused the nurse of being involved in passive corruption for a lawful act. The case was referred to the court for further proceedings.
Taking this case into account, the Citizen Observatory for Health (OCS) considers the GPCCM’s decision to be the right one, given that acts of corruption must be continually discouraged and denounced in any health unit throughout the country.
The OCS believes that no reason can justify the fact that a health professional, who has sworn to save lives, is involved in dishonest and immoral acts because of money or any benefit. In other words, as much as the health sector is not applying a satisfactory pay scale for professionals, illegal charges are not a solution because the patient suffers the most, while has nothing to do with the low pay in the sector.
The National Health System (SNS) must fight hard against corruption, a real evil that plagues health units across the country. The professionals held responsible should serve as an example to discourage other professionals who may be thinking of taking the same path.
In the context of this and other cases that plague the functioning of the National Health System, the OCS has carried out various investigations (scientific and journalistic) denouncing criminal practices in some health facilities, with the aim of encouraging the sector’s authorities to take action and hold corrupt professionals accountable. (Read one of the reports via this link: https://www.observatoriodesaude.org/entre-dor-e-cobrancas-ilicitas-relatos-de-maus-tratos-na-maternidade-de-ndlavela/).
Meanwhile, with regard to the other defendants, the GPCCM closed the case because their involvement had not been proven.
“It has not been proven that the newborn baby, unnamed by the complainant, lost her life as a result of poor care at that maternity hospital”, says the GPCC.
The OCS, however, sees no reason why the nurse should not be held responsible, given that it was because of her mistreatment that the newborn lost her life.
It has been proven that mistreatment is one of the causes of neonatal mortality. Studies indicate that mortality during the neonatal period is most influenced by the care provided to mother and child during pregnancy and childbirth.
The Citizen Observatory for Health acknowledges that improving working conditions and increasing salaries for health professionals has always been a major challenge in the National Health System, but does not agree that the way to put pressure on the government to respond to these problems is by sacrificing the patient. Or, on the other hand, the government should find ways to provide better conditions, not only for patient care, but also for professionals.
According to Resolution 73/2007, which approves the Charter of Patients’ Rights and Duties (CDDD), patients have the right to be treated with respect and human dignity.
It is a fundamental human right, which takes on particular importance in situations of illness. It must be respected by all health professionals involved in the process of providing care, both in terms of technical aspects and acts of hospitality.
The Citizen Observatory for Health has been advocating with the Ministry of Health (MISAU) and the Mozambican Parliament for the CDDD to be updated and transformed into law, which provides for penalties for professionals who violate patients’ rights.