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Morocco: When giving birth Turns into A Nightmare

Neonatal Deaths

By Nidal Chebbak

Morocco World News

Fez, May 5, 2012

A question to the ladies: Have you ever thought of or considered giving birth in a truck, a taxi, on the floor or at the door of the hospital, or even on the street? No? Well, neither those women we heard about lately did.

It is so outraging to read on the news every single day that a pregnant woman in labor was denied access to the hospital to give birth in healthy conditions. Pictures and stories of these women sweep over the net and they make a person disgusted at the supposedly health care system of the country which is supposed to be at the service of the people instead of endangering their lives.

Whenever we hear of a woman who gave birth in the street, we think and assume that this huge buzz will make a difference. Yet after a short period of time, we hear of the same stories happening again in another place. This has become a phenomenon, especially in the last couple of years that no one will get shocked or surprised at such news anymore.

Let’s chronologically recall the stories of some of these women whose stories made headlines with no concrete positive change looming in the horizon. If it wasn’t for social media, people would most probably have never heard of their cases.

On April 9, 2011, a pregnant woman who lives in a rural area came to Beni Mellal regional hospital after she had labor pain. Amid the carelessness of the medical staff at the hospital, this woman gave birth at a toilet. Female patients at the hospital heard her cries and started shouting at the nurses who took the baby and left the mother at the toilet for a long time with no assistance or care.

On July 4, 2011, a woman was forced to give birth to a baby boy in front of the door of the hospital in Tahla when the hospital refused to receive her because the nurses were absent. The same thing happened when her family took her to a private hospital. When the pain worsened, the family was forced to deliver her using traditional methods in unsafe and completely unhealthy conditions, in the public street near the hospital. After an investigation conducted by the Moroccan Association of Human Rights branch in the region, they discovered that all the nurses called in sick that day!!

On August 9, 2011, another young Moroccan pregnant woman from the region of Zayou gave birth in street, in front of the people after she was denied access to the hospital. A video of the woman swept all over the net and was used by women’s organizations in Morocco to demand and stress those pregnant women’s rights to give birth in safe and healthy conditions. The video caused outrage among the Moroccans who decried the poor service provided to pregnant women.

The woman spent hours in pain in front of the hospital and when her time was up, women from the street collaborated together to help her deliver, while the medical staff didn’t move or act to help at all. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZffvpTN2e0)

On November, 2011, a pregnant woman gave birth at a phone booth in Abi al-Jaad with the help of the women who were at the booth and others who were just passing by. A nurse at the local hospital forced the pregnant woman to leave the hospital convincing her that she wasn’t going to give birth that day, despite the severe pain labor the woman was suffering from.

The nurse, who was the only person at the hospital, advised the woman to go home, sleep and rest because it wasn’t her time yet. While the woman was on her way back home, her water broke and the labor pain increased which forced her husband to take her to the nearest phone booth whose female owner and other female passers-by helped her give birth on the floor of the booth.

On December, 2011, a video that went viral showed a woman giving birth at the door of the hospital in Nador because she was denied access to the medical facilities. The medical staff of the hospital refused to receive her, though she was in a very critical condition, due to their inability to receive many patients, as they said. The woman died while giving birth and this incident didn’t change anything at all in the reality of our Moroccan hospitals. She became just another number.(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rT8dwKjerCI)

On May 3, 2012, a pregnant woman in Qalaat Sraghna gave birth to a dead baby after she was refused by three hospitals. She was forced to give birth a few meters away from a group of health centers after they shun her away, which resulted in the death of her baby due to unhealthy conditions.

A day before, the woman who is 30 years old, had labor pain and went to the nearest health center where the nurse asked her to go to the regional hospital because their two doctors are absent, as they were on a holiday. When she arrived in the regional hospital, they asked her to go to another health center. Her husband took her to another health center whose staff refused to let her in and even shut the door in her face. As the labor pain intensified, she was forced to give birth in the public street. The unhealthy conditions were she was giving birth caused her to suffer from severe bleeding, resulting in the death of the baby.

Today, May 5, 2012, a pregnant woman gave birth in a taxi in Tetouan after she was refused to be received at the hospital of Saniat Rmel, as the woman didn’t have enough money when she arrived in the hospital.

These are only short glimpses and examples of the deteriorating health care conditions in our Moroccan hospitals where people’s health is put at stake on a daily basis. These women never dreamed or thought of giving birth this way. Since it happened to them, it can happen to any pregnant Moroccan woman from middle and lower classes. This is a shameful situation that is turning into a phenomenon spreading in different regions of the kingdom that needs serious action to restore the situation and put an end to gambling with people’s lives.

© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved.

Nidal Chebbak is a Moroccan national. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in English Studies in 2009 after completing a research paper on Advertising Moroccan Women in Moroccan Magazines, in addition to a Master’s degree in Cultural Studies: Cultures and Identities in Morocco from the University of Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdullah in Fez; her MA thesis entitled European Women through the Eyes of Moroccan Travelers 1611-1919. She produced a short documentary about Moroccan Students of English Perceptions of Freedom and a group documentary project about Moroccan Youth and Political Participation. Nidal is also the vice president of the Moroccan Association of Friends of English (MAFE) and a news correspondent for Morocco World News in Fez (Email: [email protected]).

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