Abeba M's story
A refugee from Ethiopia shares her story of abuse in South Africa.
Abeba M., a refugee from Ethiopia living in Port Elizabeth, developed severe high blood pressure when 28 weeks pregnant and went to a district hospital for treatment. She soon left because nurses treated her badly, but returned after her condition worsened. Her whole body was swollen and she was in great pain, but a scan for diagnosis and further treatment was delayed 10 days.

On the day of the procedure, she was weak and experiencing blurred vision. “The nurses swore at me and insulted me,” she said. “Now you are saying you are sick and next year you will come with another pregnancy. This is not a place to enjoy or be on holiday.” When she used a cushion for her aching back, she was told to go to a private hospital where she would “be treated like a queen,” and she was ordered to clean up her “mess” when she bled on the floor.

Abeba was afraid that she and her foetus would die. When she called for help one night and said she was in serious pain, a nurse said, “I know, and what do you want me to do?” Abeba said the nurse continued “playing a gospel song on her cellphone and dancing.” Abeba did not complain because she said she did not know to whom to complain or believe the case would be investigated.

Have you experienced bad care in a hospital?

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