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Int’l nurses week: Anambra nurses demand better welfare, improved conditions of service

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By Gabriel Chy Alonta

Nurses and midwives under the aegis of National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Anambra State Council, have appealed to the state governor, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo to pay attention to the plight of members to ensure quality health care delivery in the state.

Comrade Edith Onwuka, the chairman of NANNM, Anambra state council, made the call during the International Nurses Week celebration in Awka, the Anambra state capital. The week-long event, Orient Daily reports, was themed, “Nurses: A voice to lead, invest in nursing and respect the right to global health”.

Onwuka described the theme as apt and of monumental importance, stressing the need for the government to invest in nursing, build a resilient highly qualified nursing workforce, as well as transform the health system to meet the needs of individuals and communities now.

According to the state chairman, as we commemorate the International Nurses Week, we wish to appeal to His Excellency, Governor Soludo to look into the issues affecting Nurses especially as he takes stock of challenges in different ministries, MDAs and parastatals.

Comrade Onwuka said, “Poor remuneration of nurses and midwives has led to mass migration of highly qualified nurses to either federal health institutions or outside the country in search of greener pastures. This has adversely affected health care delivery as the small number of nurses that remain are overwhelmed by work in our hospitals.

“Equally, it is important to review the Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) which has not been properly implemented in the state; the said CONHESS 60 per cent is on paper but not properly and fully reflected in the implementation. We humbly request not only the full implementation of 60 per cent CONHESS but an upward review to 100 per cent for nurses in the state and local government (PHCs).

“There is shortage of nurses and midwives in both general hospitals and primary health care centers; this gross shortage affects the health care delivery with attendant negative consequences”, she decried, while also calling for the implementation of new hazard allowance of N32,000 per nurse which was recently reviewed as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.

“Nurses have suffered tremendously throughout the pandemic; they have been unnecessarily exposed to the virulence of the highly infectious and lethal virus also faced by the public; suffered extreme workload, and continue to be underpaid and undervalued especially in Nigeria.

“If the government continues to put off investing in the health workforce, it will be to the detriment of health the system everywhere because there can’t be any health without a functional, competent workforce”, Comrade Onwuka warned.

She stressed the need to ensure that the health system guarantees and promotes nurses’ right to a safe working environment, decent wages and full participation in decision making in the health industry. The chairman also disclosed that the association at the state level is partnering the Nursing and Midwifery Council Committee domiciled in the State Ministry of Health to clamp down on quackery in the health system and fight incessant opening of nursing schools.

She seized the opportunity to felicitate with Prof. Soludo and his deputy, Dr. Onyekachi Ibezim, on their landslide victory in November 6, 2021 gubernatorial election, while also eulogising them for starting off on a sound footing.

This paper reports that the International Council of Nurses (ICN) celebrates the International Nurses Week from 6th -12th of May each year, to mark the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, who is credited for modern professional nursing because of her tireless work during and after Cremean War. The day is also set aside to acknowledge the contribution of nurses worldover, as well as intensify calls to improve the working conditions of nurses.

Other executive members of National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Anambra State Council, present to mark the event were Comrade Helen Obi (vice-chairman), Comrade Esther Igwegbe (treasurer), Comrade Christy Alukwe (Public Relations Officer), Comrade Michael Egbuniwe (Auditor I), among other members.

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