Nurses under the aegis of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) have absolutely decried the act of neglecting well trained healthcare professionals to waste away, while there is still clamour for insufficient experts.
The association has also condemned the current focus of the Federal government as being championed by the Federal Ministry of Health towards the privatisation and commercialization of the health industry. This attempt at placing and pricing *profit over people* is spelling doom and will make the susceptible majority of Nigerian citizenry to be more vulnerable to ill health while the privileged minority will be eating fat on the fortune of the unsuspecting masses of Nigeria. “In addition, presently our hospitals are not well equipped with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and the culture of non-inclusive policy formulation, the culture of corruption and destroyed goodwill and team spirit have made things worse in our health sector.
“In Nigeria today, Public Health Nurses distributed all over the states and local governments of Nigeria are being underutilized, not recognized and not being assigned duties relevant to the expert training they acquired; this is an issue of suffering of adversity amidst surplus. Public health nursing empowers the public health nurses to be the appropriate personnel with skill, resources and expert services in public healthcare services being used in other African countries, USA, Canada, UK, other part of Europe, Asia and other continents of the world with great successful outcome”, they stated.
Speaking through a press release signed by the NANNM President, comrade Abdrafiu Adeniji, the nurses commiserated with the families of the bereaved doctors and a nurse, while calling the Nigerian government to beef up the security and life insurance of healthcare practitioners, through the introduction of healthcare insurance for healthcare professionals, stating that this will ensure the professionals’ sense of assurance and confidence, so that in the events of accidental and untimely death from work place hazard, their families will not suffer.
The release further demanded for the immortalisation of the present victims and those that died during Ebola as well as earlier casualties of Lassa fever, while requesting for their salaries paid to their families up to the time they will be due for retirement, as compensation and consolation for their families.
“In case of any new incidence of the outbreak of Lassa fever, the Federal and State governments should be prepared to take up the cost of treatment. Burial of any victims should remain the responsibility of Federal Government to curb the danger of the spread.
“It is desired also, that the FMoH should present the names of these martyrs for posthumous national merit awards. They are heroes and heroines who paid the supreme sacrifice in the course of discharging their responsibilities.
“Healthcare financing demands the involvement of all stake holders and therefore the Federal Government should provide leadership for all that holds stake in health and inculcate the private sector in contributing to healthcare financing as a mark of corporate responsibility distinct from doing business with our fragile public health”, it stated.
The group however urged every Nigerian to take the expert health advice of the Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control Epidemiological sciences and knowledge of preventive nursing on the useful tips on prevention of Lassa fever. Lassa fever as a viral hemorrhagic disease is capable of being spread through direct and indirect contact with items contaminated by exudates from an infected source either with rodents’ urine or faeces, or the saliva of the rodents that touches food items. The Lassa viral agent is transmittable though zoonotic chain, between human and animals through urine, faeces, or other secretions of a person infected with the haemorrhagic fever.
For health workers safety and preventive measures, the professional body made it explicit that prevention of the diseases is better and far more efficient as well as cost effective than its treatment. “Since healthcare professionals are highly vulnerable, nurses in particular are more susceptible. Nurses and other healthcare professionals should religiously and sacredly adhere to universal disease prevention, standard precautions, regulations, techniques and devices. This is not a time to panic or taking any unscientific measures but rather be vigilant and cautious, utilizing the knowledge and expertise of personal preventive techniques.
“We are not unaware that there is no vaccine for Lassa fever, but the succour here is that the disease as much as dreaded can be prevented. Nurses and other healthcare professionals should take proper hand washing technique very serious and discountenance attitude of contempt to aseptic technique, environmental hygiene, personal hygiene and food hygiene. It is important to also avoid unhygienic interactions between man and other creatures living and nonliving in our environment.
“Nurses and all other healthcare professionals should insist on the adequacy and proper distribution of PPE in the discharge of their professional duties so as to prevent paying the supreme sacrifice while serving the nation and caring for the needs of our clients. It is hereby advised that all patients presenting with signs and symptoms of fever should be directed to do RDT – Rapid Diagnostic Test for malaria parasite to identify or rule out evidence of malaria in all clients at outpatient departments, in emergency care, ante natal clinics and intra partum especially those presenting with malaria and other high grade fever in pregnancy. It is our view that the occupational health and safety courses in nursing should be strengthened. And many more should be trained and deployed appropriately.
“In summary sacrificing self does not portray sense of responsibility and commitment to duty and a life loss in human resources for health is colossal as well as a set back to the mission of attainment of our nation health target and agenda”, the statement reads.