Preservation of respect and dignity

 

Towards the end of last year, the Nurses and Midwives Council of Malawi (NMCM) issued a press release against taking and sharing pictures of victims.

Reads the statement: “NMCM has learnt with great concern that there are some people including nurses and midwives that are taking pictures of the victims at the scene of accidents and even in hospitals and sharing them without the consent of concerned parties.

“The NMCM would like to appeal to the public, especially to its practicing nurses and midwives to refrain from taking part in this malpractice. This is morally, ethically and professionally wrong, causing more psychological trauma to the relatives of the concerned victims”.

The council went further to caution its members about risking deregistration, and advised them to treat victims with respect and dignity.

I have written about the same before—on December 20 2015—titled ‘No photographs if you cannot help’, to be precise about these so-called smart phones outsmarting our intellect. We have apparently become engrossed with getting the latest photos or become the first to post them elsewhere that we will not do anything to help a road accident or any other victim, even on the verge of their deaths.

I guess NMCM wondered how victims’ photographs leaked through hospital walls, hence, the press statement. Even as the council adds that these pictures are taken without victims’ consent, I don’t believe that any victim would consent given their circumstances.

But indeed, what has happened to humanity for it to prefer taking those compromised photographs against the need to help? Why should the sight of blood, tissues, marrow, bones or debris in an accident scene inspire photography simply because we have the means of taking pictures? Is it so hard to walk away if we cannot assist rather than embarrass the dead or injured? Does it require a whole council to remind people of the need to uphold the dignity of others? Does it necessitate one to be a rocket scientist to know right from wrong?

Enough of these appalling pictures in this New Year. We all have the right to privacy. No more pictures of that woman going into labour on the street or public transport or of her delivering the baby. No more pictures of bloodied passengers involved in road accidents or that person breathing his/her last. The difference in saving lives can be the active participation of anybody within victims’ reach, including that fool reaching out for a mobile phone to record the tragedy for purposes of being the bearer of bad news at a forum.

What amusement is there about a woman calling out for help in her time of need to be saved and the life of her unborn child? What about that driver’s last gasps of breath or the child reaching out to us?

The next time anyone sends us those pictures, ask what they did to help before distributing the pictures. If they are forwarded or copied from elsewhere, inquire from the sender about why he/she is aiding the spread of inhumanity. Maybe this kind of attitude just might help arrest the stupidity now taking over.

The council’s message rightly goes out to its members and people in general. It is outright obscene to take those photographs. I wish, just like the council’s penalty, there should be penalties for people who take those pictures. It is easy to trace their sources if we are serious about tracking down the malpractice to preserve our and others dignity. n

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