Nurses have urged the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, improve the welfare and working conditions of health workers in the country for improved services.
They made the call on the heels of the ongoing strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) which has crippled healthcare delivery and access in public hospitals across the country.
The nurses made their demands known at a five-day “Train the Trainer’’ workshop under the National Surgical, Obstetric, Anaesthesia, and Nursing Plan for Nigeria (NSOANP) in partnership with Smile Train in Abuja on Thursday.
Mrs. Olubunmi Lawal-Aiyedun, the former President, National Association of Nigerian Pediatric Nurses, said “people are dying; so many things are wrong with the health system.
“I call on government to do the needful, we need to change the narrative and call off the strike.’’
Lawal-Aiyedun, who said that doctors needed to be comfortable to be able to put in their best, added that “it is not easy putting your life on the line daily to ensure the health of others.
“In many hospitals, you find that one nurse is attached to about 30 to 40 patients. There is gross lack of adequate health professionals.’’
She, however, urged nurses to continue to put in their best in delivering a global standard of healthcare.
She said that nurses and midwives used flashlight to take deliveries in some Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs)
“And in some cases where a child is asphyxiated, that is, he or she cannot breathe and needs the aid of medical equipment, such tool is not available.
“In the past, the child is held with the head down and feet up and tapped on the back to get them to breathe
again. Unfortunately, several decades later, this is still being done because the infrastructure and enabling environment are not there.”
Mrs. Blessing Opara, the Assistant Director, Nursing, National Hospital, Abuja, said that the workshop was to freshen the knowledge of nurses in public hospitals to enable them to function optimally.
Opara also said that nurses were working under difficult conditions, saying “instead of nursing four patients, we nurse 20 or more in a shift.
“Manpower is the major challenge that nurses face in providing healthcare today.’’
Mrs. Morayo Eboh, a Principal Nursing Officer at Defence Intelligence College, Karu, Abuja, said that the lack of modern equipment was another challenge nurses faced in supporting healthcare delivery.
Eboh, who is also a Critical Care Nurse, called for better communication and collaboration between healthcare professionals and for an end to the protocols that prevent the delivery of emergency healthcare to patients.
She said “you tend to see many nurses improvising due to the lack of medical equipment that should ordinarily be available in health facilities and so they are forced to do the best they can with what is available.
“Synergy and communication among professionals are important when rendering quality care to patients and reducing preventable deaths.
“The process of obtaining a folder during an emergency should be stepped down. I think if we break some of these protocols when it comes to quality care will reduce preventable deaths.’’
Mr Francis Obaje, a Theatre Nurse at Kogi State Specialists Hospital, Lokoja, urged nurses to communicate more with
patients “to change the perception that nurses are heartless and lack passion.
“Let us try to place ourselves in the position of the patients, empathise with them on how they feel, and the new environment they are forced to adjust to.’’
He said that the strike by NARD members had affected the capacity of the healthcare system to deliver care as surgeries among other critical services had reduced or stopped in some facilities.
Mrs Victoria Awazie, the Programme Manager, Smile Train West Africa, said that the workshop was the pilot phase of a collaboration between the organisation and NSOANP for nurses across the 36 states and the FCT.
She said that the training was part of a five-year plan to build the capacity of nurses to improve the quality of care in hospitals.
She added that “when patients come to hospital, their first contacts are nurses. The training will improve the knowledge of nurses on how to deal with patients.
“We are carrying out this training to address the occurrence of sentinel events, that is patients dying in the hospital when aftercare is being administered.
“The training will equip nurses to know what to do when doctors are not available.’’
The Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) had in 2019 set up NSOANP with a five-year strategic plan to reduce out-of-pocket spending on surgical care by increasing financing.
The plan targets a 35-per cent coverage of surgical care and a health insurance coverage rate of 50 per cent by 2023.
With a 15-per cent increase in budgetary allocation to the health sector by 2023, the Federal Government hopes to strengthen the healthcare system through investment in surgical care to increase productivity.
The NSOANP training was held physically and virtually, with 24 participants in attendance, while about 200 nurses joined virtually.