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NANNM President on International Nurses Day #IND2017 - Upcoming Conference - Nurses Arena Forum

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NANNM President on International Nurses Day #IND2017 by Idowu Olabode : May 12, 2017, 06:03:08 PM

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria on the occasion of the year 2017 commemoration of the International Nurses’ Day and I am honoured to once again stand here to address my professional colleagues, employers of labour, and most importantly beloved Nigerians. I am grateful to the almighty God for preserving us to witness and celebrate yet again this year in spite of the various physical and socio-economic challenges that have confronted us as a people ranging from epidemics of Cerebrospinal Meningitis, Lassa fever, insecurity in the form of armed robbery, kidnappings, cattle rustling and Boko haram menace resulting in the creation of many internally displaced persons in the country.

While we commend the government at various levels and security agencies in the federation for their efforts in alleviating the sufferings imposed by these challenges, we also call on them to do more with the view to having a peaceful and secure Nigerian state where stable economic activities can thrive. Let me quickly use this medium to congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari on the recent release of Eighty Two (82) of the abducted Chibok girls.

The International Day of the Midwife and International Nurses’ Day are commemorated respectively on the 5th and 12th of May every year all over the world, giving health professionals and indeed humanity an ample opportunity to appraise and appreciate the modest contributions of these cadres of professionals to the development and maintenance of quality healthcare among varied strata of human race. The occasions also create the best platform for continued assessment of what nursing was, is and what it will be in the future.

The themes for this year’s celebration, “midwives, mothers and family: partners for life” and “NURSES: A VOICE TO LEAD - ACHEIVING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS" are no doubt thought provoking and challenging especially in this era of economic recession. These topics concisely and incisively bring to question whether the profession has actually achieved a leadership role in the health industry or among other members of the health team. Since Nigeria entered into recession, we have witnessed low productivity, high unemployment rate, shrinking incomes as well as high inflationary trends with negative economic indices.

This trend has left many Nigerian families with little or no income to take care of their most pressing - physiological needs of food, shelter and affordable healthcare. Nurses and midwives are not spared of the economic woes of the nation which has affected the tranquility of families. Corruption, misplaced priorities and wrongful economic templates and policies no doubt brought us to where we are now economically. However, we cannot continue to bemoan the situation without taking proactive actions. That is why our profession as an affiliate of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has supported the anti-corruption policies of His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR), President and Commander In Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We, the members of NANNM, will continue to support the efforts to reduce and possibly eliminate corrupt practices in our economic lives.

The themes of this year’s international day of the midwife and international nurses’ day are apt and most relevant at this time, considering the vital roles that health and wellness is playing in our individual and community lives and the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. Nursing profession plays a pivotal role in maintaining optimum health of people and communities as such has a key role to play in taking the lead in achieving the sustainable development goals.

Let me once again draw your attention to the theme of this year’s nurses’ week celebration, “Nurses: A voice to lead - achieving the SDGs”. Nurses and midwives are core and vital members of the health team globally and are at vantage position to advocate, plan, implement and ensure effective and efficient delivery of qualitative health care service to people of all nations. We stand to be challenged when we say that before the adoption of the SDGs by world leaders on 25th of September, 2015 at the United Nations in New York that nurses and midwives have been advocates and implementers of actions geared towards ensuring that patients’ and relatives’ needs on good health, zero hunger, health education, clean water and sanitation among other items in the SDGs are vigorously pursued as components of the client’s care.

Essential among these are efforts made towards reversing the negative indices we have as a nation on maternal and child health, combating cerebrospinal meningitis, Lassa fever, measles, HIV/AIDS and other emerging health issues in the country.

Colleagues and distinguished guests, this gathering is indeed a unique opportunity for us all to critic our nation’s economic and social menu with the view to giving voice to the voiceless, and being partners with the families with the purpose of giving life a meaning by ensuring quality health and wellbeing. Dr. Judith Shamian, President of International Council of Nurses said, “the wealth of our nations depend on the health of our population, and the health of our population depends on Nursing”.

The roles of nurses and midwives on the health of mothers from conception, pre-natal, post-natal and end of life care are clear indicators that Nurses and midwives are truly leading voices in the pragmatic approach to enhancing the quality and safety of health of the Nigerian people. It is therefore our considered opinion that government at all levels should ensure the availability of nurses and midwives in all the primary health care facilities across the length and breadth of our countries for the safety of our wives, mothers, sisters and daughters.

This is because if we must change our country especially in the area of negative indices on infant and maternal mortality, then we must engage the services of midwives at our primary health care centres because if it is NOT a midwife, it can never be the same as a nurses and midwives in these facilities, as far as pregnancy, pre-natal and post- natal care are concerned.
Distinguished guests, the state of infrastructure and working tools in our health facilities are of great concern to most Nigerians, especially the low and middle class citizens who can not afford medical tourism. The challenge imposed by this ugly situation is such that even the few employed professional nurses and midwives would not be able to deliver qualitative care that will meet the needs and expectation of the service user.

The social determinants of health (SDH) are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at the global, national, and local levels. The SDH are mostly responsible for health inequities- the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries. At every level, nurses have significant role to play whether delivering care, accurately accessing needs, designing the clinical or policy response or evaluating outcomes and effectiveness. Do you wonder how our voices can take the lead in achieving the SDGs? 

For more equitable, affordable and accessible health care delivery system, nurses have three critical means of being a voice to lead; as a member of the single largest group of health professionals, with a presence in all settings, nurses can make an enormous impact as individuals, as a profession and as part of a multi disciplinary team. Every decision we take in our practice can make a significant difference in the efficiency and effectiveness of the entire system. In fact, if investment in the nursing profession is not made by governments and world leaders, sustainable development goals may remain elusive and therefore not achievable.

However, in the busy life of most practicing nurses, thinking about how we can support and strengthen the health system we work in, is not a common activity. Yet the need to develop our thinking, planning and profile in this important area is all too evident.  We are a vital force for the changes that the system needs due to the strength of our members, our strategic and economic contributions, our collaborations with the public, health professionals, other partners and individuals, families and communities for whom we provide care all add power to our vision. Nurses’ ability to effect change is just as important as the technical ability to deliver safe and effective care and they are influential at all levels.

It is imperative that we identify in our organizations and in ourselves the opportunities to strengthen and develop resilience. By promoting the nursing voice, we can help to guide improvements in the quality of health service delivery.  Nurses’ input into health sector policies will help to ensure that supportive work environments for practice are taken into account when policies are formulated.  It is our duty to ensure that governments and policymakers understand that confident, well-informed nursing leaders who understand their roles in developing a workforce to meet new challenges are essential to ensure the success of the SDGs and to meet the health challenges of the future.

In the same vein, the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) is calling on the government to expedite action at resolving the outstanding demands of the association. These demands include:   

Implementation of the new circular on promotion of our members from CONHESS 14 to 15 as directors which places premium on the need to sanction defaulting hospital managements.

Enabling circular authorizing consultancy cadre for health professionals that have fulfilled the laid down criteria for consultancy status, as spelt out in the Federal Ministry of Health circular on consultancy and specialist allowances. Ref: SMH.491/S.2/VOL. II.221 of 29th March, 1976, and in compliance with the judgment of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN).

Payment of arrears of specialist allowances to qualified hospital based health professionals most especially nurses and midwives with effect from January 1, 2010.

Immediate and full payment of arrears of the skipping of CONHESS 10 which remains outstanding since the year 2010, in line with the court judgment in 2012.

Recruitment of more nurses and midwives into the public service, this will reduce work burden and burnouts that have consistently become a plague to nurses and midwives due to shortage of this skilled healthcare professionals in government healthcare facilities at all levels. This will in no small measure improve the efficiency in health care, as the Nurse -patient ratio improves.

We call on the government to urgently direct the Federal Ministry of Health to obey and enforce valid court judgments for the enthronement of justice, fairness and equity in the health sector; such as the National Industrial Court Judgment in the JOHESU VS FMOH case of 2012.

A recent development in some tertiary health institutions in the country that calls for immediate action is the fact that midwives and nurses working in maternity sections, surgical sections, emergency and out patient departments are deprived of carrying out their statutory duties and responsibilities by managements of such institutions. It should be noted that globally, nurses and midwives have been attested to as skilled birth attendants needed by every woman during pregnancy, labour and deliveries of their babies. We therefore call on government to halt this unwholesome development to prevent unnecessary industrial crises in the health sector.

Task Shifting is a global trend and principle towards solving shortage of human resources development for health and it meant well but the Nigeria version is tending towards an absurdities and entrenchment of deprivation of our members responsibilities. All Nigeria health sector needs is uptake of the better option in the attempt to solve the drastic shortage in nurses and midwives. Am confident that if all graduating nurses and midwives are automatically employed there will be credible option will play out to be a safe, qualitative and cost effective option. If the need arise at all for task shifting, Midwifery services and other specialty services should be shifted to general nurses who are close in knowledge, skill and expertise to deliver best practices to the people of this country.

The deprivation of our members on health salary grade level 7 and 8 teaching allowances, nurses in primary health care not allowed to benefit from rural posting allowances are both contributing to demotivation of willing and dedicated nurses and midwives. The training and recruitment of health workers is not enough but motivating, and retention of health workers is paramount at attaining the health goals worldwide (Dr. Mahler, former DG of WHO)

It is pertinent, that it should be on record that our national health delivery team need to be rejuvenated towards, efficiency, patient centered, safety, easily accessible, affordable, rancor free, harmonious and progressive one. The current moves at distorted version of PPP are spelling doom. The fate of privatizations in power sector that has led to corruption and personal gratification, if allowed to go the way it is now the health sector will be in shamble. The health of our nation should not be mortgaged in the name of an idea that is not well thought of. Our health should not be for sale and the right of our citizenry should not be put to danger by allowing money bags to ride the public of their rights. Privatization has failed in most developed countries of the world.

Finally I congratulate Nigerian nurses and midwives for the just adopted education reforms and call on government and all stakeholders to contribute our quota towards its full actualization. The efforts of development partners that are contributing to transforming the nursing and midwifery education in Nigeria, UNFPA, Woman For Health, Well Being Foundation Africa, and others that are contributing to betterment and improvement in this vital steps.

In concluding this address, I wish to appreciate our special guests and dignitories, partners, sponsors, and in particular all executives and members of this great association including the education committee members as well as participants at this years’ annual celebration who worked tirelessly to ensure the success of this event.

Long Live Nigeria Nurses and Midwives!!!
Long Live Nursing Profession!!!
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
Thank you and God bless.

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