Elizabeth Andreya Features Writer
The recent launch of the Nursing Now campaign in Zimbabwe is expected to improve health by raising the profile and status of nursing in the country.
This is a step in the right direction as the country moves to enhance healthcare service delivery and access to health for all.
The campaign, which was launched last week by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, seeks to be a platform to increase the visibility of nursing and midwifery through recognising and celebrating the role of nurses and midwives in contributing the healthcare within the country.
It mainly focuses on primary healthcare.
Nursing Now will run until 2020 — the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth and a year when nurses will be celebrated worldwide.
The campaign is expected to focus on five core areas which will ensure that nurses and midwives have a more prominent voice in health policy-making; encourage greater investment in the nursing workforce; promote recruiting of more nurses into leadership positions; conduct research that helps determine where nurses can have the greatest impact; and promote sharing of best nursing practices.
Dr Obadiah Moyo, Minister of Health and Child Welfare says nursing is a critical profession and the backbone of the healthcare delivery system.
“This is a very important project for us and we want it to resonate right through the whole world that Zimbabwe launched the Nursing Now project this day. Nurses are very important and we have much respect for nurses.
“We want to make sure that the nursing service is also appreciated in the higher levels management within the ministry. We want to make sure that the nursing service become part of what we call the Health Assembly which is an envisioned conglomeration of health professionals who work under the ministry of health which enables anybody to come and voice their opinions and allow everyone to be able to contribute towards the running and management of the ministry,” he said.
Midwives and nurses worldwide are held back by a lack of voice in creating the change and delivering the creative solutions they know are so badly needed.
The healthcare delivery is highly labour-intensive, with nurses and midwives playing an increasingly critical role, but often overlooked.
In Zimbabwe, Public Primary Health Care (PHC) workforce is largely nurse-led, with PHC nurses in rural clinics and nurses, midwives and clinical officers in urban municipality clinics, hospital outpatients and inpatients.
Clinics and hospitals in rural areas lack resources, drugs, manpower and accessories, something that hinders the delivery of quality healthcare to people which has resulted in nurses especially those working in rural areas being forced to expand their roles, taking on the responsibilities of pharmacist, doctor, physiotherapist and so forth.
All these roles make them a very crucial part in achieving Universal health coverage.
It is very pleasing that the Government is in support of this Nursing Now campaign as it will help achieve quality health care service and Universal Health Coverage.
As such, the launch of the Nursing Now campaign is timely to steer ongoing health programmes like the national Strategic Direction for Nursing and Midwifery to showcase research in nursing and midwifery in the country. Everyone including the nurses and midwives should contribute with their ideas in the health sector and not just suppress the human mind when that brain has a lot of useful information which can help improve the sector. Strengthening nursing and midwifery skills could have a positive impact in the quality of healthcare, access to services, the well-being of practitioners, and the achievement of national and global health goals as their services are a subsystem of health services that are provided by a range of personnel.
Globally, these services share common attributes that include caring for, supporting and comforting clients; continuously assessing and monitoring health needs and responses to interventions; advocacy and education of clients and communities; identifying care gaps and developing appropriate responses; delivering and coordinating health services across the care spectrum.
Nursing and midwifery complement and support other healthcare services and thus help to ensure the successful implementation of interventions that welcome life, promote or restore health or, conversely, enable the means to a peaceful, dignified and pain-free death.
Government should support the Nursing Now programme by optimising policy development, effective leadership and management in nursing and midwifery since they make the largest part of the health workforce, providing about 87 percent of the health services.
It is, therefore, important for them to take the lead in the health workforce. This can only be done when there is nursing and midwifery leadership that is very strategic. There is need for leaders with very critical minds, who are able to make sound decisions that could turn around the healthcare sector.
The nursing profession must produce leaders throughout the healthcare system, from the bedside to the boardroom, who can serve as full partners with other health professionals and be accountable for their own contributions to delivering high-quality care while working collaboratively with leaders from other health professions.
It is very crucial for nursing and midwifery to have a voice in health policy decision making, as well as being engaged in implementation efforts related to healthcare reform. They should serve actively on advisory committees, commissions, and boards where policy decisions are made to advance health systems to improve patient care and achieve universal health coverage for all as they are the ones who are always with the patients.
More so, nursing services are contributing towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal number 3 on health.
In South Africa, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and its Tuberculosis/Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (TB/MDR-TB) Project hosted a official launch event of Nursing Now in February 2018, as part of the ICN TB/MDR-TB Project workshop to build the research capacity of nurses in the six ICN Wellness Centre countries.
ICN Wellness Centres aim to strengthen health systems through the provision of quality comprehensive health services for all cadres of healthcare workers and their immediate families. The Wellness Centres are responsive to needs, managed by nurses and supported by inter-sectorial partnerships in the following countries: Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Uganda, and Zambia. The Centres work to achieve a strengthened health workforce, better able to meet the population needs.
This can also be done in Zimbabwe to support this programme just like neighbouring countries are doing to support the health sector and the visibility of nurses and midwives in the country.
There is therefore, a need to work together under this new campaign with a great sense of urgency to ensure universal and quality health coverage for all Zimbabweans at all times.