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Patients rights are human rights

 

Formalized in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the inherent dignity and the equal and unalienable rights of all members of the human family. And it is on the basis of this fundamental dignity and equality of all human beings, that the notion of patient rights was developed. To protect the rights of patients citizens need to be educated about what they can and should expect from their governments and their health care providers—about the kind of treatment and respect they are owed. Citizens, then, can have an important part to play in elevating the standard of care when their own expectations of that care are raised.

 

In Tanzania

Patients in Tanzania nowadays have the right to free TB and HIV testing and medication. This is a good thing. But the rights of patients are not met yet. There are a few areas that need improvement:
 
  • AWARENESS: patients are unaware of their rights, and health care providers still hold a position of authority. This means that many times people don’t know what’s wrong with them even after visiting a doctor, and just take the medication prescribed. This also means they don’t raise their voice when they don’t receive the care they are entitled to.

  • POVERTY: TB is a disease of the poor, and the majority of patients live under the poverty line. Most patients don’t have the means to clean water and the nutrition needed when being on medication. This hinders their full recovery, and can cause people to stop taking their medication.

  • EDUCATION: there is a lack of knowledge about TB among the general public, which is one of the reasons 55 thousand Tanzanians still die of TB every year. Their cases go undetected due to lack of knowledge.

  • INFORMATION: due to heavy workloads health care providers don’t offer enough information about the disease and the medication to patients. This causes patients to stop the treatment prematurely, while not being cured.

  • INADEQUATE FACILITIES: especially in rural areas testing equipment is not always available. Especially when the sputum sample comes back negative and people need an X-ray, problems arise. There is no electricity, there is no X-ray machine, or patients don’t have the 10,000 tsh it costs to make the X-ray.

 

Our solution

As Mukikute we aim to solve these issues by:

 

  • ADVOCACY: we advocate with the government, partners and health care providers to facilitate the whole country with proper testing equipment. We also advocate for a patient centred health management approach, in other words: to put patients first. And thirdly we bring the patients voice and concerns and observations from local hospitals to the table of the National TB Program.

  • TRAINING: we train vulnerable populations on human and legal rights, to empower them to stand up for their rights. At the same time we train health care on health communication and the necessity of a patient centred approach.

  • COMMUNICATION: we communicate with health care facilities to make sure they help people who are most at risk for TB to free care without discrimination.

  • EMPOWERMENT: by being a patient led organization we empower patients to speak up and claim their right to care.
 
Mukikute is a small organization and that cannot cover the whole country. This is why we are always reaching out to more partners who can help us reach these important goals.