Eliminating disrespect and abuse in health care facilities during childbirth could be a contributory factor in improving pregnancy outcomes and avoiding preventable illnesses and deaths. This study aims to provide evidence of disrespect and abuse in this community in order to create awareness about its occurrence.
A cross-sectional survey was carried out on 384 recently delivered women who visited the postnatal and immunization clinics of a primary and tertiary health facility in Ile-Ife. Information was sought about awareness of disrespect and abuse, prevalence and forms of disrespect and abuse, and opinions on improvements which can be made in maternity services. Univariate analysis was used to summarise the data.
About half of the respondents were in their fourth decade of life and had tertiary education. Overall, the majority (98.4%) of respondents agreed that it was their right to be treated with respect and dignity during childbirth while about one-fifth (19%) had ever experienced some form of disrespect and abuse. The commonly identified forms of disrespect and abuse were: non-dignified care (12.8%), discrimination (8.1%), a detention and abandonment (6%). However, the majority (81%) of the respondents did not have any suggestions for improvements in delivery services.
Although most of the respondents knew it was their right to be treated with respect, some reported that they had experienced disrespect and abuse during childbirth in varying forms. The evidence from this survey draws attention to the need for interventions to address the health system factors hindering health service utilization.