By Styvn Obodoekwe
Health workers handling gender based violence case such as rape, have been charged to be guided by the ethics of the medical profession in the discharge of their duties.
The charge was given recently in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, by Dr Nabie Francis during a training of health workers on gender based violence responses organized by the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development, CEHRD, with support from
the Embassy of the Netherlands in Nigeria.
He noted that without observing the ethics of the medical profession, the health workers may end up worsening the conditions of victims psychologically.
According to the medical expert who also heads the Rural Health and Community Development unit of CEHRD, Victims and survivors of rape, sexual violence and other forms of gender targeted violence are already traumatized by their ugly experiences and should therefore be treated with empathy, sympathy and assurance of confidentiality. He lamented that some health workers are often so careless and unprofessional to the extent that they reveal the identities of victims to other people, thereby exposing them to public ridicule and stigma.
Dr Nabie noted that many victims avoid going to seek medical attention at health facilities as a result of unprofessional conducts of some health workers, adding that it is imperative for health care professionals to be more sensitive in identifying victims of gender based violence in order to be able to manage their issues and address the effects of the violence on the victims.
He added that apart from medical attention, the victims may be in dire need of counseling support aimed at healing them emotionally and psychologically.
He commended CEHRD and her partners for organizing the training, saying, it would add values to patterns of responses to gender based violence in the society.
Declaring the training open, David Vareba, head of the human rights unit of the CEHRD, disclosed that the training was aimed at promoting a state-gide adoption of Gender Based Violence response best practices by bridging knowledge gaps of health workers, especially in the areas of data collection methods and intervention response mechanisms for managing gender based violence cases.
He noted that health workers, especially those in women’s health settings such as reproductive and sexual health, maternal child health and prenatal settings, have critical roles to play when dealing with victims of GBV.
The medical expert stated that for GBV victims to disclose information relating to violence in their lives, health care providers must be seen to uphold ethical principles. He stressed that training health care workers on response is key to curbing the rising trend and effects of GBV. He urged them to take the training serious as their skills in managing cases of gender based violence would be enhanced.
At the end of the training, the participants, who were drawn from different health facilities across the senatorial districts of Bayelsa State, expressed gratitude to CEHRD for organizing the training, saying that it came at a right time.