As the majority of front line health workforce, nurses around the world are essential to meeting the health care needs of our communities. Yet the dire shortage of nurses globally poses a major challenge for high and low income countries alike: sub-Saharan Africa alone faces a shortfall of more than 600,000 nurses.
Yesterday, the World Health Organization and the International Council of Nurses launched the Nursing Now campaign, which aims to raise the status of nursing and empower nurses around the world. The three-year campaign will work with partners around the world to advocate for nurses, supporting their ability to be properly trained, increasing their role in policy making, and enabling them to tackle today’s and tomorrow’s health challenges.
Uganda, where Seed Global Health has been supporting nursing education since 2013, was chosen to pilot the Nursing Now Africa initiative. As part of the initiative, the Ministry of Health will work with a variety of partners – including the Uganda-UK Health Alliance, UNFPA, the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council and Seed Global Health – to transform the country’s nursing and midwifery professions. Already, a Nursing Now Uganda board has been created, and over the next few months, a variety of stakeholders will come together to drive forward nursing education, training, and deployment.
Seed has partnered with nursing institutions in Uganda since 2013, working with local faculty members to teach critical skills and build the capacity of future nurses in the country. In 2015, two volunteer nurse educators began working at Muni University in rural West Nile region of Uganda. Since this partnership began, Seed has worked closed with Amos Draisku, the Head of the Nursing Department at the University, to help strengthen nursing care in the community.
With the launch of the Nursing Now initiative in Uganda, Amos and Muni University will be further empowered to improve nursing education. To celebrate the launch, Amos shared some of his thoughts on nursing in Uganda:
What are the biggest challenges facing nurses in Uganda and around the world?
Nursing is often regarded by employers and patients as less important than medicine as a profession. People do not understand what nursing really is. As a result, nurses are paid less for their work, their welfare less minded of, and they are blamed by patients for many problems in the health care setting. To counter this, over time, more nurses are attaining higher levels of training and advanced degrees. This is important to improve quality of health care for the people as well as reputation of the profession, however, employing them is still a challenge.
What can be done to strengthen nursing in Uganda?
Ensure quality nursing education by developing competence based curriculum and proper implementation. Build capacity of nursing faculty so that they are able to train competent nurses that can serve internationally. Continuously educate employers and clients about what nursing is so that they come to value the profession
Why is it important to spotlight the work of nurses?
Every patient needs and expects good nursing care. And strong nursing makes a huge difference in patient outcomes. Often times, it is nursing care that patients use to judge the quality of services offered by a health facility. It is quality of nursing care that determines patient outcomes and cost of care.
We must support advocacy to value nursing and encourage nurses to be proud of their profession.
And we must support professional growth among nurses, especially nursing research, skills training and standards-setting, for the best care now and in the future.