As a matter of urgency, the government must invest in specialised training of nurses and midwives across the country to improve expert care given to patients and reduce mortalities resulting from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and other infectious diseases.
A Professor at the Department of Nursing of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Prof. Mrs Victoria Bam, who made the call, said, taking a cue from the impact of COVID-19 on the health system globally, it was crucial that nurses and midwives who form the majority of health professionals were equipped with requisite skills to sustain gains made towards achieving universal health coverage(UHC).
Prof. Bam spoke at the 6th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and 3rd Scientific Conference of the Ghana College of Nurses and Midwives (GCNM) in Accra yesterday.
The four-day conference on the theme “Prioritising and promoting nursing and midwifery specialisation towards a sustainable UHC in a pandemic era” saw the induction of 79 members and 99 associate members into the College.
Prof. Bam submitted that training received by a general nurse or midwife in the area of infectious disease control and managing pandemics like COVID-19 in Ghana was inadequate.
Worse, she said, was the rise in non-communicable diseases coupled with “our inadequate system of waste, environmental management and the slow pace of behavioural changes which challenges our healthcare delivery system.”
“The double burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases makes the pandemic a threat to the progress we have made towards sustaining UHC, and a crop of nurses and midwives are needed with the specialisation to lead and support the majority of nurses and midwives in fighting the pandemic,” she urged.
The public health nurse specialist proposed telehealth (the use of digital information and communication technologies, such as computers and mobile devices, to access and manage health care services remotely) as a specialised area the government could immediately leverage to adequately respond to health needs in the country.
“It is an opportune time to promote this specialisation in the face of an increase in the number of mobile phones ownership and improved technology usage.
With Ghana using the community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) programme as a major strategy towards achieving UHC, specialist nurses and midwives can provide the needed and timely support to those working in these areas in order to minimiSe complications and prevent mortalities,” she stated.
A Deputy Minister of Health, Alhaji Mahama Seini, eulogised nurses and midwives for their invaluable contribution to the country’s COVID-19 response so far.
He recognised that Ghana could not attain UHC without the role of nurses and midwives and expressed the commitment of the ministry to ensure that the health system had the right mix of professionals to handle emergencies.
The President of the GCNM, Dr Abigail Kyei, pleaded with the ministry to fast-track efforts at getting a permanent accommodation to fit the status of the College.
“Our College has been residing in hired premises since its inception and that does not meet our administrative and academic needs. It is interesting that in the whole of Africa, no country has established a College for nurses and midwives except Ghana, as such, if we have taken up the beacon position, then let us shine brightly,” she said.