Heath Minister, Dr Richard Sezibera, recently cautioned us all as patients at one time or another, to be aware of our rights.
It is very rare in Third World countries for us to be aware of certain rights when we seek medical attention.
So often the idea of getting to a hospital in itself feels like such a privilege for the struggling many, that the violation of any of their rights becomes insignificant.
Take recent media reports of helpless patients in some hospitals who go for days without seeing a doctor.
They are just contented to be in a hospital and comforted by the thought that at some point a health professional will come along their way.
Now chances are that being in a meeting place for all other kinds of contagious diseases, the waiting patients are likely to catch something they had not brought with them.
It is therefore, instructive for us as a community to heed the advise from the Health Ministry, to know our rights.
How long can patients stay in a hospital before a doctor attends to them?
How should health specialists, our nurses and especially doctors, who have taken the Hippocratic Oath, treat us when we seek medical attention?
It is truly disheartening when patients die in hospital out of mere negligence and not some unavoidable health complication.
It is in this regard that the Government adopted the Charter on Patients Rights and Responsibilities; which emphasizes every patient’s right to, ‘care, privacy, information, choices which include decision-making and a second opinion.’
However, for the Health Ministry, it is not enough to alert us of our rights, the next stage should be a nationwide sensitization on how to seek reprieve, in the event that the rights outlined in the Charter are violated.
The starting point might be the week ahead dedicated to the promotion of the health of parents, babies and children. It is a week that should bring much awareness to the general public on health related issues and procedures.
In view of the still damning HIV/AIDS statistics it might also be a week worthy of correcting some of the Papal disinformation on condom usage.