• August 15th, 2020

Letter - Nurses’ role in prevention and control of emerging diseases

The celebration of International Nurses’ Day on Tuesday, 12 May 2020 coincides with the International Year of Nurses and Midwives. The international year of the nurses and midwives is a year designated by the World Health Organisation in recognition and tribute to the marvelous work of nurses and midwives.  This includes the sacrifices they make in ensuring that the public receives the needed health care and save lives.  All this is achieved through their selflessness regardless of the risks involved in being exposed to all various illnesses and also having limited health care resources. As the fight against Covid-19 wages on, we are proud to be a leading healthcare workforce and frontline fighters ready to combat this pandemic.  Nursing is a caring profession that has evolved over the years in response to the health needs of the population, which includes caring for the sick and providing a Population-Based Healthcare. Nurse practitioners requires knowledge and skills to evaluate the health status of patients, families and communities.  Nurses are frontline health professionals at primary health care level, which is the entry to the public health system in many countries across the world with roles such as screening and treating patients, providing individual and group health education both in healthcare facilities and in the communities. They also provide preventive services such as immunisations and condom distribution. Equally, they provide health promotional services such as antenatal care family planning, cervical screening and treatment, and many more. 

Nurses’ roles have expanded to include identifying trends of new infections using the routine health information at the point of care to respond promptly to unusual health condition trends. Being the majority of the Health workforce across the world, and serving at points of entry in the health care system, nurses have a deeper understanding of patients’ medical histories and their conditions. Henceforth, they need adequate support when advocating for improvement in the health care system as they understand the system far much better than any other healthcare workers.

Patients come to healthcare facilities fragile, worried and concerned about their health and that of their families. But, it’s the responsibility of nurses to treat them with a sense of humor and empathy despite limited resources in public health setting. There is a lot of frustration amongst nurses regarding the inadequate supply of pharmaceuticals, clinical supplies and other logistics. It is from this background that we would like to call on individuals, private sectors and government to support nurses in executing their duties. This will create an enabling environment for them to thrive and provide quality health care services especially in the emergency of daunting diseases such as Covid-19. It will equally enable them to be prepared for other potential outbreaks to come in future, as they continue to battle other health issues such as HIV/Aids, malaria, infant mortality rate which continues to threaten humankind. 

Apart from providing healthcare services to the sick in healthcare facilities, Nurses are also required to educate the public on precautionary measures to prevent communicable and non-communicable diseases. They still further provide screening and treatment in communities. Because of their community health and clinical background, they have adequate knowledge and skills to provide comprehensive health care services. Nurses are also involved in the development of any platform introduced to expand health services, as nurses have both theoretical and practical knowledge of how health service delivery can be designed, coordinated and effectively implemented. 

In this year, the International Year of Midwives and Nurses, 2020, we would like to acknowledge the teams that   are working with us in the health system because, we alone cannot achieve it all. These include but not limited to medical doctors, pharmacists, social workers, environmental health practitioners, emergency care practitioners, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and nutritionists. As nurses, we are calling leaders across the world to fulfil the promise of Universal Health Coverage to bridge health inequalities.
*Rauna Namukwambi is an Advanced Nurse Practitioner and a Lecturer of Community Health Nursing Science at the University of Namibia, Southern Campus. She writes in her personal capacity.

Staff Reporter
2020-05-15 09:52:59 | 2 months ago

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