Are You a registered nurse interested in joining government policy. In this article you’ll read about nurse’s engagement in government policy Making
The full definition of who a Nurse is cannot be overemphasized because of the complex pertinent duties and functions that they perform in the generalized health sector and society at large. Therefore, attempting to give a systemic definition, a Nurse is a person who has completed a program of basic, generalized nursing education and is authorized by the appropriate regulatory authority (NMCN in Nigeria) to practice, provide care, and render all nursing services and assistance to clients in his or her country. Meanwhile, Virginia Avenel Henderson, a nursing theorist and associate professor at teachers college, Columbia University in New York defined nursing as assisting the individual, sick or well, in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery ( or to peaceful death) that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary strength, will or knowledge.
Every country globally has a nursing regulatory authority, for example, the Ugandan regulatory body for nurses is called the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council which was established in 1992. In South Africa, we have the South African Nursing council established on 8, November 1944. In Nigeria, there is the nursing and midwifery council of Nigeria (NMCN) established by decree No 89, 1979 and act caption 143 laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 so on and so forth.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the government is the body of persons that constitutes the governing authority of a political unit or organization as an active agency. Mere looking at these two subjects, some persons may feel nurses and government are two different, unlikely subjects or phenomena but there is an important need for nurses to engage in government policy making because unlike the normal stereotyped belief that the job of a nurse is to stand beside a patient and administer drugs, they can assist with the transition to health problems that invest in disease prevention and promote health as well as treating diseases and alleviating sufferings. This can be made possible when the government starts giving them the due attention they deserve in terms of infrastructure, public image, salary increment with the appropriate orientation, and the right constitutional backup to help stop and alleviate the menace and the inefficiencies demand deficiencies of the public arena. Having gone through the wholistic and meticulous experience of an institution with a tremendous understanding of the rudiments of care given to patients, they can be consulted at the political Frontline with their consultations being sought after in the health sector and otherwise. For instance, imagine the outbreak of the Ebola virus.
Medical practitioners were being consulted at that time, according to Dr. Margaret Lamunu, a veteran of WHO, who worked during the Ebola virus saga. People with Master’s degrees were doing the trace work which led to no shortage of qualified medical personnel and lab facilities. Imagine if the same approach is used in policy making Nigeria with nurses involved, many cases and prevalence of diseases and death count would be reduced if not eradicated. Nurses are the doorway to every country’s healthy haven. They should be involved in policy-making to maintain their control over nursing practice and have an impact on and access to the delivery of health.
Among the different global debates around the health policy reforms, there has been an increasing call for nurses to be actively engaged in government policy making. The first reason is that they work with patients in proximity. They understand the patient more comparatively and pragmatically than every other professional in the clinical setting as such they would know how to influence policies as touching the good quality of patient’s health on different occasions.
The health priority of every nation and medical environment is the judicious wellbeing of its clients. Therefore, with the close interaction with patients in the clinical environment daily Nurses stand better confidence in patient’s need assessment, plan, and implementation for a qualitative and quantitative outcome.
This would come in handy in the establishment of good medical facilities. Secondly, many health sector policies have an impact on Nurses’ work environment and consequently their professional practice and the betterment of the client’s health needs. To make it clearer, The National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) has demanded that its members should be involved in decision-making on various health policies in Nigeria believing their impact can be felt too even outside the spheres of the hospital as stated by the national president comrade Michael Nnachi.
A study carried out in the Kenyan public health care system that the Kenyan nursing system has the primary responsibility for policy development and provides about 55% of health care services. The health delivery system is organized in a pyramidal structure with six levels of care the first is the community, the second is dispensaries and medical clinics, then health centers and nursing homes, district level hospitals, and provincial and national levels. Hence, decision-making structures exist at national, provincial and district levels and all of these involve Nurses’ representation.
My clarion call to the government in regards to this crucial subject matter of Nurses’ involvement in policy-making will involve:
- The government should restructure the leadership of the teaching hospitals, federal hospitals, and most general hospitals where the medical advisory committee (MAC) comprises 90% of medical doctors to a reconvened piloting affair where nurses especially and other health practitioners must be involved to create a balance in the deficit of health ideologies, demands, capacity building, procurement, and monitoring.
- The government that has gone through the conventional best practices globally should understand that the head of a clinical institution mustn’t be the medical doctor alone who most times comes into the ward once in a while to see the patient and return whereas the Nurse stays with the patient often. Since this is evidentially veracious, the government’s appointment of the head of a hospital or clinical facility should cut across the various health professions.
- The minister of health does not necessarily practice in a clinical facility. What qualifies that officer is the experience of having passed through a health education system. This is more of administration and not necessarily profession based (for doctors). Every other health professional with adequate knowledge of health in whatever field yet with informed and good managerial skills and leadership qualities obtainable in the nursing education curriculum can lead a ministry of health competently. Given this, the government must make its appointments at every political level of health representation cut across all health professions, especially the nursing profession.
- Global health is changing and according to the millennium development goals (MDGs) and united nations captions on health reform, and sustainable development goals (SDGs) if we must achieve a stable health sector where the majority of fresh graduate nurses don’t travel out of the country incessantly on a regular base then a favorable work environment must be created for them in Nigeria. The nursing profession which is the largest profession with the highest workforce globally should be highly considered for policing making in Nigeria especially and globally. Therefore, if the government wants stable healthcare, then again there must be consideration in the structural design of the architecture of the hospitals. The government should ensure a call room for nurses to rest their heads after a long shift. It is so embarrassing and appalling how a hardworking, educated and competent skilled nurse sleep in/on the chair, desk, or even empty beds of patients because there is no provision of adequate call room in the teaching and general hospitals including most federal medical centers where they can rest to watch over the patients with a good sense of image proficiently. Instead, a call room is provided for young house officers who are still in training to sleep well when a matron/chief nursing officer is sleeping on a bench or chair. Where did we place seniority, respect, and ranking in the civil service? This injustice, prejudice, discrimination, marginalization, and unprofessionalism must stop. It is unprofessional and void of discipline. I appeal to the government to move into swift action to remedy this obnoxious menace in the health facilities.
Conclusively, nurses’ involvement must be practiced and encouraged by the government if we must get it right in the health sector considering the client’s health outcome in society.
DANLADI AMINU R.N, BNSc 2022