Saturday, 15 June 2013

AIMSI and NWCI - Working Together to Improve Maternity Services

AIMSI motion voted on and passed at NWCI AGM

The National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) held their AGM on June 14th, 2013 - their 40th anniversary - in the Clarion Hotel (IFSC), Dublin. The diversity of members at the AGM was a stark reminder of how women from all over the country - and all over the world - have converged into this one organisation so that they have a platform from which they can stand strong together and call for changes to women's rights in Ireland. With the support of these members, AIMSI submitted a motion at the AGM that calls for changes to maternity services that will ensure women are treated with the dignity, respect and equality of health that is inherent in a woman's basic and inalienable human rights.

The motion was voted on by the NWCI members and passed, meaning that AIMSI will be given the support as well as the extensive knowledge and experience of the NWCI in seeking to improve Irish maternity services. 

The day was inspiring as it gave NWCI members a chance to vote not only on the motion submitted by AIMSI, but also on other motions put forward by fellow members. The issues ranged from a call to influence and broaden the inclusion of women in school history books to combatting domestic violence against migrant women. The calls were passionate and articulate - each one presenting a worthy and just case for support and action. In the true spirit of democracy, each motion was voted on and each one  passed. 

Here is an excerpt from the AIMSI motion:
"Ireland has the highest birth rate in the EU yet our maternity system is primarily focused on one patriarchal model of care, in which women have limited choices and a limited voice. On an administrative level this has fostered a grave lack of accountability and transparency, and a lack of equity in access to care based on geography, ethnicity and wealth.  The media rarely picks up on the extreme cases of violations to women’s autonomy and human rights in maternity services and the HSE does not investigate unless they are forced to do so. Recent years have seen maternal deaths, forced c-sections and hundreds of other cases of maternal morbidity go almost completely unnoticed. Disturbingly it would appear that these affect non Irish and disadvantaged women disproportionately. Other less extreme cases, but equally as damaging, may involve restricting or ignoring a woman’s choices in childbirth or forcing certain procedures on women in this setting without seeking informed consent/refusal. The common thread in all of these cases is that the maternity units will ultimately put the rights of the unborn child before the life and health of the mother, sometimes with fatal consequences. AIMSI believes that a woman’s human rights should not be compromised in pregnancy, labour and birth or, indeed, at any other  time in her life."

So what does this mean for AIMSI?

The NWCI encourages its members to put forward motions at the AGM that are in line with the Strategic Plan of the organisation (see here). In their guidelines on motions, the NWCI states that "this will ensure that the work of the NWCI is carried out in a focused and strategic manner; resources are used efficiently; and the best interests of the affiliates are served".

When a motion is passed by the majority of members at the meeting, it informs the policy work of the NWCI and will be acted upon within the resources of the strategic work plan. Essentially, it is an opportunity for members to put their issues forward and to gain support for their work.

This means that AIMSI will have the extensive support and invaluable resources of the NWCI to progress our mandate of improving maternity services in Ireland - with a particular focus on lobbying and campaigning for clear guidelines and legislation that uphold women's rights in maternity services. AIMSI looks forward to working with the NWCI to further our work in making improvements in Irish maternity services.

For more information on the NWCI, see

Thursday, 13 June 2013

HSE fail Savita Halappanavar - in Life & in Death

Today, the HSE published the long awaited report into the death of Savita Halappanavar who died of Sepsis following a miscarriage after being denied a termination in October of 2012.

You may read the full report here:

While the nation digests the report findings, there are two issues which raise immediate red flags indicating that despite all the effort which has gone into the theatrical display of expert opinions, grave expressions, and urgent comments, the HSE hasn't learned from this process one iota.

1) Recommendations following the inquest of Savita Halapanavar included the need for 'proper and effective communication'. You might recall that the same recommendations have also been put forward following the death of Tania McCabe, Bimbo Onanuga, the Miscarriage Misdiagnosis Scandal.... (are we making our point?). Despite this, Praveen Halappanavar is reported today as being 'unaware' that the HSE report was to be published today. #IRONY?

How can we trust a health body to enforce recommendations when they can't get something so basic as effective communication with Praveen right?

2.) The HSE report into the death of Savita Halappanavar has the inclusion and full disclosure of all pre-admission history with her GP on confirmation of pregnancy and details from Savita's booking appointment to UCHG prior to the onset of her miscarriage. The amount of intimate personal history detail included in this report is mindboggling.

We just want to make sure we get this straight, the HSE protects their staff by not naming HCPs involved in the case within the report, but they can include the dead woman's weight, her HIV status, previous medical history,  her need for GTT, blood group, medications during pregnancy, if her pregnancy was planned or not, her height, if she planned to breastfeed, her scans, etc?

We are all for transparency but something here just doesn't feel right.

It would appear violations in repsect, dignity, and patient rights linger in life and in death.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Inquest for Bimbo Onanuga resumes July 5th 2013

 Information about the Inquest for Bimbo Onanuga, 18th April 2013; 5th July. 2013

Bimbo Onanuga was a Nigerian woman from Lagos State who died in the Rotunda Hospital on March 4th, 2010.

Bimbo was almost thirty weeks pregnant when she was admitted to the Rotunda Hospital with an intrauterine foetal death at the beginning of March, 2010. She was admitted to the Rotunda late on the 3rd March for treatment to deal with the foetal death. Bimbo died the following day. 

At the time of her death, Bimbo left behind her daughter, Nellie, who had been born in Limerick Regional Hospital in 2003. Nellie was quadriplegic and Bimbo was her principal carer. Ten months after her mother’s death, Nellie herself died from complications relating to her complex condition.  

Bimbo’s partner, Abiola Adesina, who was with Bimbo that day in the Rotunda, and Bimbo’s family have pressed for an inquest about Bimbo’s death to discover and understand the unfolding train of events leading up to this tragedy. There has also been continuing concern and unease in the Nigerian emigrant community in Dublin about the circumstances of Bimbo’s death. 

Maternal deaths, while a rarity, nonetheless have been shown statistically to affect non-national emigrant women almost twice as frequently as women born in either the UK or Ireland (CMACE, 2011; MDE, 2012). 

The Dublin City Coroner has granted the family’s request for an inquest. The first session was held  on the 18th April. The second session will resume on the 5th July, 2013 at 11 am. sharp.

It would be wonderful if there were visible support for Bimbo and her family in the court.

The Coroner’s Court is in Store Street behind Busaras:

CMACE (2011) Saving Mothers’ Lives: Reviewing maternal deaths to make motherhood safer: 2006-2008 March 2011 The Eighth Report of the Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths in the United Kingdom BCOG 118 Supplement 1 March 2011.  
Maternal Death Enquiry Ireland (2012) Confidential Maternal Death Enquiry in Ireland, Report for Triennium 2009-2011, Cork: MDE.