Nurses, midwives unsung heroes

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Banner 3” class=”f”>Zambia Daily Mail by Online Editor on 5/30/13


“I CAN safely conclude that nurses and midwives are the unsung heroes in the health sector.

They are a foundation to ensure that no woman dies while giving birth.They are a solid rock on which any progress in achieving health related millennium development goals (MDGs) stands.

These where the words of Zambia Union of Nurses Association (ZUNO) president Thom Yung’ana at this year’s commemoration of International Nurses Day (IND).

The IND is celebrated on May 10 every year. The event marks the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founding member of the nursing profession.

The increasing demand for quality health care by members of the public in the midst of critical shortage of professional health care providers, causes undue pressure on the few who are available, which sometimes and unfortunately, culminates into physical violence and verbal abuse by members of the general public, being witnessed especially of late.

Incidents of nurses being beaten by irate relatives when a patient dies are not uncommon.

Sometimes they are beaten by patients too.

A nurse was early this year allegedly assaulted by two patients -beaten at Lusaka’s Levy Mwanwasa Hospital.

The incident was confirmed by a hospital spokesperson who said “We condemn this in very strong terms; the habit of beating up medical officers must come to an end”.

These and many other inhumane occurrences that nurses and midwives have been exposed are the reason for Mr Yung’ana ‘s to lament at the IND celebrations whose theme was ‘Closing the gap: millennium development goals’

“Unfortunately, the Zambian general public does not seem to know and let alone understand and appreciate this predicament, among others, to which the nursing and midwifery profession is subjected to”.

Mr Yung’ana said to complicate the situation even further; some politicians have even embarked on an ill -campaign to get rid of male midwives from the nursing and midwifery profession.

He said “This is indeed a very sad development, of which if left unchecked has great potential to cripple the already struggling health care system and reverse some of the gains scored in the achievement of the MDGs (millennium development goals) 4, 5 and 6.

As ZUNO, we totally condemn such kind of manoeuvres which are counter-productive to the cause of a sound and robust health care system in the country”.

Mr Yung’ana says nurses and midwives have played a key role and have dedicated their efforts towards the achievement of the MDGS.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also recognised the important role that nursing and midwifery services play in contributing to the MDGs. Nurses and midwives offer additional capacity with respect to reaching national and global health goals.

Furthermore, the 2012 WHO study reveals that nurse density is the primary driver to lower levels of HIV rates.

Mr Yung’ana appealed to members of society to take time to understand the passion that nurses have. He said “Take time to understand the nurses’ job and the challenges they face in performing this job. Take time to appreciate the efforts the nurses put into their work in the face of these many challenges.

It is only then that the nurses and midwives in Zambia will feel appreciated for vows that they have taken. And it is only then that society will appreciate how important this noble profession is in their lives”.

Health Minister Joseph Kasonde who officiated at the IDN which attracted thousands of health care providers from both Government ministries and civil society organisations at Lusaka’s Chamba Valley Zambia Air Force (ZAF) mess said Government recognises nursing as the largest health care profession in the country and there is no doubt that nurses and midwives are the cornerstone to the achievement of the MDGs 4, 5 and 6.

These three MDGs are aimed at reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other health related diseases.

Dr Kasonde is also happy that nurses are often accessible to many people who need health care and are thus well-placed to understand the complex nature of health care provision.

He added that nurses and midwives can be found in almost all facilities in the country, including those in the remotest areas.

In contributing to the achievement of MGDs, nurses and midwives have developed skills to enable them negotiate at every level with various partners. These skills include offering equal serves to the underprivileged and the well do in society.

“Being a nurse is more than being a mere care giver. Nurses touch people’s lives in many ways as a smile from a nurse bring about healing. The Patriotic Front government is pleased that nurses and midwives have done a lot towards the achievement of the MDGs by helping shape and deliver sustainable goals and outcome beyond 2015,” Dr Kasonde said.

Respecting and upholding the rights of nurses and midwives is key if Zambia is to close the gap in the attainment of MDGs by 2015 and beyond.