The Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association and it’s Allied Unions and Associations have worked hard over the past weeks to avert the minds of its members to the need to help the government combat the novel Coronavirus in Ghana by helping to identify, contain and manage cases.
It has been no mean task as the challenges are visibly clear in the clinical area. Paramount among these challenges are:
A.Direct COVID-19 issues
- Unavailability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including masks, gloves, coveralls, head caps, and other essential logistics needed to contain the spread of the virus.
- Lack of education and training on the novel virus coupled with the lack of PPEs has resulted in fear amongst our rank and file of most medical staff including some nurses and midwives.
- Lack of training in the appropriate wearing of the PPEs.
- Unavailability of testing for nurses and midwives in general since every one of us is exposed per the work we do.
- Lack of transparency in information sharing and dissemination especially on suspected and confirmed cases at some facilities.
- Unavailability of proper accommodation arrangements for nurses and midwives who have been exposed to suspected cases of COVID-19 in line with quarantine protocols without exposing their families especially elderly parents or young children.
- The immense psychological impact of the COVID-19.
B.Lock Down issues
- Transportation challenges as a result of the lockdown, typically involving the unavailability of vehicles and price hikes.
- The current situation of partial lockdown affects all nurses and midwives including disruption in the availability of food and other essentials.
C.ADDRESS OF H.E THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA
- Nurses and Midwives are demotivated and feel their work is not appreciated by Government following the many explanations given to the President’s statement on allowances for Frontline health care workers.
- Every nurse, midwife, Physician Assistant and Nurse Anesthetist everywhere is exposed to COVID-19 and should therefore enjoy Government’s incentive package on allowances. We strongly suggest the following:
- Government should apply the 50% allowance across board to all nurses and midwives as a motivation for them to do their work wholeheartedly.
- Alternatively, Government should apply a 35% across board to all nurses and midwives and maintain the 50% for those in the treatment centers.
- Provision of adequate amounts of PPEs to health workers in all facilities across the country to ensure their safety and boost the fight against the infection.
- Mandatory and routine testing for all nurses and midwives starting with priority areas like Out-Patient Departments, Accident and Emergency units, Holding units, Isolation and Treatment centers and gradually moving to other areas.
- Monetary incentives and protection must be given across board, because the asymptomatic patients are the most dangerous.
- Reintroduce the tax waiver on vehicles for nurses and midwives so that those who can afford can purchase their own personal vehicles. This will mitigate the long standing transportation challenges of nurses and midwives.
- Effort must be made to support CHPS compounds and Private Maternity Homes with PPEs and other logistics in readiness for COVID-19 as initial symptoms from communities could be reported to such facilities. Furthermore, these midwives and community health nurses may have to move from house to house to provide care.
- Nurses and midwives work in a team and closely with the support staff. We would also want some of these provisions to be extended for the wellbeing of our support staff.
- Going forward we call upon government to improve the clinical working environment by increasing domestic financing for the health sector by the allocation of more financial resources to the health sector as required by the Abuja declaration of at least 15% of a national budget. It will even be in our own interest as a nation to go beyond the 15% percent in order to sustain the services of the public health sector and ensure its preparedness for any future epidemics or pandemics.
As Nurses, Midwives, Physician Assistants and Nurse Anaesthetists we are prepared to continue giving off our best in what we do as professionals as our quota to nation-building