Tuesday, April 03, 2012

[Vital Signs Column] When women die in our hands

Vital Signs, is the FIRST newspaper for the medical community. It caters to doctors, health workers and other healthcare professionals, bringing them the latest health news, scientific updates, as well as opinions, and commentaries on current issues impacting healthcare delivery in the country. You can read Alvin Dakis' columns on nursing & social issues named Nurse's Notes in every Vital Signs newspaper published every 1st & 15th of the month. www.fame.ph 
March 16-31, 2012 Issue

As nursing students we have been exposed to a lot of clinical areas in the hospital including one of the busiest – the delivery room. We all went to the process of having to assist a delivering mother how to do breathing and pushing, assisting the doctor during delivery and doing all the necessary interventions when the infant is out. We used to have fifteen cases to handle, assist and cord care with. We know the routine.

We also know that when we are on duty on a public hospital, most likely there are a lot of pregnant women trying to find a good corner to somehow rest in that very, much cluttered maternity ward. We also know that there will be times when we have to mount around 4-5 pregnant women at the same time to DR tables. And when that happens, we are indeed happy for we get the chance to help that mother safely deliver her infant which eventually becomes an addition to our recorded cases.

We also know that in every delivery, the pregnant woman is always at risk of complications or worst, death. We know for a fact that in a public hospital, during our eight-hour shift, we usually deliver not less than five infants. That is, I think the most conservative average in a shift. And these we know that there are still many women out there who died because of the complications from child birth.

When I became a clinical instructor in a state university, I saw more of these when I’m bringing my students to their clinical rotations in the delivery room. Fortunately, I didn’t chance of seeing or handling a dying mother nor I wouldn’t wish for it to ever happen.

Women die in our hands
Doctors, nurses and midwives alike handle women everyday. We are witnesses to their struggles and pain during childbirth. We are witnesses to the injustice made to many of them when they cannot even occupy a single bed in a ward. We are witnesses to their sufferings when they cannot pay their hospital bills or purchase the necessary materials they need, or when they argue with their husbands because they do not have any money left to feed their family of six.

Yes there will be a time when one or two of these women will die under our care. They will die inevitably not because of our incompetence but there is nothing left for them. They will die because there are few nurses, doctors and midwives serving them – still many of them are left in their homes where a medical facility is unreachable.

Many of them will die under our care, because there are no sufficient & functional equipment left in our hospital, clinic & other facilities. There are only a few health providers who may regularly visit them in remote or evacuation sites.  Many of them will die because some health providers refuse to give them the appropriate care and or referral when they needed it because these health providers would not care about their clients other than themselves.

Women die in your hands
Women die in your hands as well. Countless debates were conducted by television networks, radio shows, school programs and even in the halls of Senate and the House of Representatives – debates of whether a women’s life should be saved, given appropriate information and essential services.

Women die in the hands of legislators, who religiously attends congress sessions and listen more to “religious” men in robes than women in the communities. Women have been marching back and forth to the halls of Congress, crying their hearts out and fervently waiting to be heard. They have been patiently visiting legislators in congress sessions clad in their purple attire as a show of force in support of a legislative measure that they need, that they think can save more women’s lives. But what has these activities took them, more debates, more delays, more deaths.

As we continue to repeatedly discuss about whom to listen to in terms of giving choices in raising a family, spacing children, and controlling their lives, more women suffer than anybody else reading this column. More young people are left ignorant of how to take care of their bodies and more men think that they know better than a woman’s body.

Men in religious robes continue to rob women of their rights to be educated about their bodies and give them a chance to control their lives and how they want to plan for their families. They continue to mock them in their citadels and pulpits. They continue to speak so fluently, so scientifically and so expertly that it seemed they have the only authority over women’s and young people’s issues. They are gods.

Saving lives of women
Ten years has passed and still the cry of women in the country has been the same. They have cried hard and they have shed countless of tears and loss tremendous amount of blood in their pursuit of justice and equality. Ten years has passed but still the same nemesis persists. But now a new hope rises. The current president of the republic is supportive of the measure and made sure that this is one of his priority bills. Many of the political leaders have been educated and understood what women really wanted – to save their lives from deaths we can prevent.

The nemesis will never perish, I believe. But as long as there are women who will stand strong and fight for what they want and what they need, people will continue to believe in the cause and eventually join them.

Soon I believe that all these things we are doing will end beautifully and women will be granted their equal rights and be given priority. Women will no longer have to die in our hands. But until that victorious day arrive, we shall not falter, we shall not rest. Not until the day that every woman in this country owns her body once again and be given the choice on how to live her life, not until the day the State shall really be by the people, of the people and for the people.

International Women’s Month
March 8th is the International Women’s Month. Millions of women all over the globe celebrate many of the successes of the global women’s movement for equality and human rights. But as of the many successes in the global movement, few but remarkable ones are happening in the country.

And though I would like to believe that we are in the process of having a nation that is truly for the people and listens to their people, still some things happen in reverse. But anyway, I recently posted a Facebook status telling all women how I am in awe of them. This is my tribute to all women this International Women’s Month celebrated worldwide:

I have always idolized women when I was very young, and all the more when I grew and got to know many wonderful super women as well. I have adored how they show their strength in their most composed attitude. How they showed compassion but showed firmness at the same time. How they can make things more creative, fun and brighter. How they make you laugh and cry at the same time. 

But not all women are as empowered as the others who enjoy as much freedom as they could. Many women are still in the dark & chained by the society. Many of them have their basic rights curtailed. And many of them have their lives being dictated by men who seemed to know better than they are. Therefore I urge all women to stand in defense of their rights, lives, families and our motherland. Never let anyone curb your voices in silence and never let your defenses be weakened by making you a second-class citizen. You are the society, you are the future.

As the world commemorate your greatness this International Women's Month, may this be a reminder of how great a mother, daughter, sister, professional, worker, leader, and woman you are. Remember that all great leaders of the world you bore for nine months, deliver them safely and nurtured them. Without you, there will be no freedom, no democracy, no leaders to shape a better world.

And to all women in the world, biological or self-identified, you are the greatest creation this world will have. Where will all these beautiful men if they weren't from you? My salute and forever gratitude to all women!

In solidarity,

Alvin Dakis, RN
Young leader & visionary
Advocate of women's & young people's rights & welfare
Self-declared Honorary Woman ^_^

See, I am a self-declared Honorary Woman! I wonder if this will really happen soon, but who knows right? To all women, ladies and girls, Happy International Women’s Month!


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