HPCSA probe into coerced sterilisation of women living with HIV still ongoing

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Hospital corridor.
Hospital corridor.
  • The HPCSA is still investigating cases of forced or coerced sterilisation of women living with HIV.
  • The CGE found this practice to be "cruel, torturous or inhuman and degrading treatment".
  • The report was referred to several parties, including the HPCSA.

The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) is still investigating cases of forced or coerced sterilisations in South Africa.

"The matter is still under investigation," communications manager Priscilla Sekhonyana told News24.

The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) released a report - in February 2020 - which found the practice of forced or coerced sterilisation of women living with HIV in South Africa's public hospitals was "cruel, torturous or inhuman and degrading treatment".

The Chapter 9 institution received a complaint on 20 March 2015 from the Women's Legal Centre on behalf of Her Rights Initiative and the International Community of Women living with HIV.

The report made several findings and recommendations, including that medical staff breached their duty of care to the women.

However, due to lost files, it was difficult for the CGE to identify the exact medical practitioners involved in the sterilisation of women living with HIV in South Africa.

The report, which sampled 15 hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, where most of the complaints were lodged, was referred to several parties, including the HPCSA.

The president of HPCSA, Kgosi Letlape, called on women to report cases of forced sterilisation and to hand over the names of doctors who abused their oath, EWN reported.

READ | 'Cruel, torturous and degrading' - Commission on forced sterilisation HIV+ women

News24 previously reported that the CGE also referred its report to the South African Nursing Council and the national Department of Health.

The body also made several recommendations, which included petitions to the South African Law Reform Commission, for amendment to legislation to ensure consent was properly obtained in this practice.

The health department was given three months to acknowledge receipt of the report and to stipulate "what concrete steps the department will take in order to ensure the eradication of the harmful practice of forced sterilisation".

CGE spokesperson Javu Baloyi told News24 this week they were pleased that the health department was going to implement the recommendations in the report with regard to forced or coerced sterilisation.

In addition, Baloyi noted that the report had yielded change in health facilities when dealing with patients who were living with HIV.

"There is more awareness and care when it comes to dealing with people living with HIV. 

"This report has heralded a new era in the health fraternity, which augurs well for people living with HIV," he concluded.

You can find the full report here

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