Claims of xenophobia at Limpopo hospital

Claims of xenophobia at Limpopo hospitalMothers talk to Ourhealth about losing their newborns:(File photo)

Mother of twins alleges discrimination on the basis of nationality by Letaba Hospital staff, which resulted in her going into labour on hospital floor.

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This past weekend, Premeditation Dube went into labour. Her pregnancy journey was marred by what she describes as a painful experience where she was not treated “quickly and with dignity”, and went into labour on the floor of Letaba Hospital’s maternity ward in Limpopo.

Dube, who is from Zimbabwe, appealed to the Limpopo Department of Health to treat all who access South African healthcare facilities with quality service — regardless of citizenship status. Dube was pregnant with twins when she arrived at Nkowankowa Health Centre on Saturday, where nurses indicated that one of the twins she was carrying was in breech. She was already in constant pain when at the clinic.

“I went to the clinic at around 5am and the nurses indicated that one of my babies was bottom first and that I have to go to hospital. They called an ambulance, and I arrived at Letaba Hospital at around 8am and I was 2cm dilated already. At Letaba they didn’t check my health booklet to see my condition and I was made to queue, even though I was in pain,” Dube said.

According to Dube, the nurses were flippant when she told them that she was in pain and needed medical attention immediately. 

“They told me that they are busy and don’t have 10 hands. By that time the baby started coming out, legs first. I was on the floor outside the maternity ward, and that’s when they came rushing in and instructed me to go to a bed,” she said.

Dube also said she was not assisted to go to the labour room. She told Ourhealth that she had to walk to the bed with one of the twins’ legs already out and the child reaching her knees. Despite this ordeal, Dube welcomed her twins after a successful delivery.

Dube believes that she was discriminated against because of her nationality, and as a result she suffered medical neglect, indignity and excruciating pain at the hospital. This is not the first time claims of xenophobia in the medical field have been made, or discrimination on the basis of nationality has led to poor medical assistance.

The nurses she spoke to at Letaba allegedly told her that “your nurses in your country [Zimbabwe] are sitting and doing nothing, and you are here and bothering us. We are tired of you.”

“The whole experience was painful and I would like the department to reprimand its nurses so that when a patient arrives at the health facilities, they are treated quickly and with dignity. The fact that I am a Zimbabwean or foreigner shouldn’t be a problem. We are all human beings,” Dube said.

The local Department of Health was aware of the situation, but their story differs from the one Dube experienced. 

“As the department we are aware of the highly expectant mother who came to Letaba Hospital on Saturday. The mother was in the queue with other people waiting to be assisted when she started to feel labour pains. Our nurses, who were busy helping another mother deliver a baby, were immediately called to come and help this mother. On arrival, the mother was in serious pain and she was quickly rushed to the maternity ward where she was assisted in delivering her baby,” said Thilivhali Muavha, media liaison officer at the department.

Although the local Department of Health acknowledged the urgency of the delivery, they denied that Dube was unfairly treated.

Muavha: “As for the story that she was unfairly treated and discriminated against — there is no basis to such a story. Everything was done by our nurses to help the mother deliver the baby. No one should be unfairly treated and discriminated against at our healthcare facilities because of their nationality, creed and colour. South Africa is a democratic country and as such we uphold the dignity of every individual. Every patient has the right to be fairly treated at our health care facilities without being subjected to discrimination whether South African or non-South African.” – Health-e News