ACHEST ED urges Nurses to get involved in Primary Health Care

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Photo From: ugwire.com

The Executive Director of the African Center for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST), Prof. Francis Omaswa has challenged nurses to be involved in promoting and implementing integrated people-centered Primary Health Care (PHC).

This, Prof. Omaswa stressed, would make them leaders and at the same time enable the country to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“I want to advance one opportunity that we can assign to nurses to take leadership in transforming the health of the people of Uganda. In integrated people-centered Primary Health Care, there is a tremendous opportunity for nurses to become the leaders and to me it is the quickest way to achieve SDGs I really would like to champion this. Nurses have skills as Home Visitors, and as Community Nurses which make them well placed to lead in PHC. If we do that, we will be on our way to build a strong and excellent contribution to strengthening health systems,” said Prof. Omaswa

He noted that Uganda had structures in place to ensure everyone is reached by the health system.

“We just need to use them. We have policies and structures in the district health systems in Uganda. They have very clear roles for nurses and we just need to prepare people to play those roles and be practical with home grown solutions,” said Prof. Omaswa

He made the remarks while speaking at the National Health Care Conference for Nurses and Midwives held virtually on August 22, 2020. The conference was held under the theme, “2020 The Year of the Nurse and Midwife,” as designated by the World Health Organization to celebrate and increase visibility of the work of nurses and midwives.

Prof. Omaswa allayed fears from one the participants at the conference that Community Health Workers and the Village Health Teams were usurping the role of the enrolled nurses.

“Let us make sure that where there is a gap, and we have skills to fill that gap, we are there.   I have no problem with enrolled nurses being community health workers who are managing the village health register to make sure that everyone is accounted for and no one is left behind. The Village Health Team is linked to the Enrolled Nurse at Health Center II,” he explained. He said that it will be a mistake to abolish and stop training of Enrolled Nurses and Midwives as has happened in Kenya and Sudan. This is because Diploma and Graduate Nurses will not be available to serve at the lower levels of the health system where nursing skills are needed.

Prof. Omaswa reminded participants at the conference that the Year of the Nurse and Midwife was much more than just raising the profile of the professions.

“It is not just nurses growing their egos, but it is about all health professionals, to make a bigger and stronger contribution to the health of our people. It is about our people. It is not primarily about us.”

He stressed further: “Let us appreciate that health professions work as interdependent inseparable teams in which each profession has a defined role, but in which we reciprocally complement each other. We all work together as equals and work together in delivering health care to the people.”

Other issues raised were the need to make use of the opportunity presented by the support from the Uganda government, as well as newly created Uganda Nurses’ and Midwives Federation which is in the pipeline.

“We have a brand new Commissioner for Nursing in the Ministry of Health (Sr Beatrice Amuge). We should work with her and let her be our coordinator inside the government to make sure all our aspirations are achieved. And through the Federation, all nurses from different specialties will come together to have one powerful group which ensures that the quality of nursing in this country is to its best and we are accountable to our people. I am looking forward to getting that Federation rolling,” he stated.

Prof. Omaswa is a Board member of Global Nursing Now Steering Committee, a global campaign which was launched in 2018 to improve health globally by raising the status and profile of nurses and midwives.  Uganda is of the over 112 countries participating in the campaign to influence policy and to empower nurses and midwives to take their place in tackling the 21st century challenges.

“Let us implement fully the strategic plan we made in 2018 for the Nursing Now campaign in Uganda to acquire the competencies that we need to be leaders. We want to be leaders in the areas where we practice, but also be leaders in places where we can influence, so that our work wherever we are, can be done. We want to be on the tables where all decisions are made. But to be able to be invited and take our places on those tables, we need to acquire competencies and qualifications which take us there,” stressed Prof. Omaswa.

Compiled by Carol Natukunda, Communications Specialist, ACHEST.

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