The President, National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Nurse Michael Nnachi has called on the Federal Government to give nurses in the country the recognition they deserve, saying the nurses are the live wire of the healthcare system.
Nurse Nnachi specifically said nurses, like other professionals in the healthcare sector, should be appointed into various key positions, including board members, saying such a move will serve as a motivation to nurses in the country.
The NANNM President made the call recently at the 2023 Scientific Conference of the Lagos State Chapter of the association with the theme as “Our nurses our future”.
The president stressed that in view of the important roles that nurses play in the health sector, they are supposed to be part of decision and policy making, adding that nurses should not be left behind but also be allowed to seek knowledge.
While lamenting that there are many challenges bedeviling nursing and midwifery practice in Nigeria, among which are brain drain and low remuneration, and a host of others, nurse calls for the provision of appropriate tools for the nurses to work with.
He also expressed the need for reliable and valid data in the hospitals, saying availability of valid and reliable data will help a lot for proper planning.
He called for improved remuneration for nurses across the country. He said “There should be provision of life security for nurses because they deserve to be protected.
“Nurses are not well paid, whereas, they deserve better remuneration. Paying nurses well will prevent brain drain. Enhanced nursing salary packages should be provided for the nurses.
“Upward review of allowance for nurses should be implemented immediately. There should also be all forms of motivation in terms of housing, cars and other benefits that will encourage nurses. The government should encourage and empower the Nursing and Midwifery Council”.
In his address, the Chairman of the Lagos State Chapter of the association, Nurse Olurotimi Awojide pointed out that investment in nursing is very important if quality healthcare delivery must be achieved.
He urged the Lagos State Government to invest more on nurses through training and conferences’ attendance both locally and internationally.
Nurse Awojide noted that the challenge of brain drain has put more pressure on the few available nurses, not just in Lagos State, but also across the country, stressing that the more brain drain in nursing practice, the higher the mortality rate.
In an exclusive chat with Pharmanewsonline, Awojide lamented what he called the “global shortage of nurses”. He pointed out that there is a high demand for nurses globally, a development he said is depleting the nurses available in Nigeria. He stated that the shortage is already biting harder on the health sector.
According to him, based on the World Health Organisation’s recommendation, a nurse is expected to attend to four patients so as to give optimum service and care, but in Nigeria today, only about two nurses will be attending to a 30-bedded -ward, which means a nurse is attending to about 15 patients as against four patients.
Awojide said the shortage of nurse in Nigeria may get worse if nothing is done to address it, adding that without the nurses, quality service delivery may not be readily achievable in the hospitals.
“Despite the problem of the shortage that we already have, more nurses are still leaving the country every day, what will the future hold for us if these ugly trends continue?” Awojide asked.
He however called for training and retraining that will also enable the nurses to be digitally inclined. He also urged the Lagos State Government to provide an improve welfare package and also provide a conducive working environment for the nurses
Meanwhile, the President of the African International Council of Nursing, Nurse Andre Gitembagara, has said if there must be strong healthcare systems, nurses must be in the top management positions where decisions and policies are made.
He stated that the healthcare system is weak currently in the African Continent because nurses are not in the top management positions.
Gitembagara who was the keynote speaker at the conference said in his address that there is no healthcare without the nurse, pointing that nurses provide about 50 per cent of the services in the healthcare delivery system.
According Gitembagara, who is also the president of the Rwanda Nursing and Midwifery Association, “If we must achieve Universal Health Coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals in the health sector, the government at all levels must invest in nursing”.
The keynote speaker decried the shortage of nurses not just in Lagos, Nigeria but in the entire African Continent, lamenting that there is wide gap in the number of nurses needed and what is currently available.
He therefore calls for training and retraining of more nurses that will be able to fill the existing wide gap.