“What brings us together… is our belief that people have a right to influence the public choices that shape our lives. Public budgets are the chief instruments by which governments make these decisions and civil society the greatest tool to ensure that people are part of that process.” (Jim Shultz, Democracy Center in Bolivia, at the International Budget Partnership (IBP)’s third conference, 2001).
According to Florence Nightingale (1893), “Health is not only to be well – but to use well – every power we have.” These words although written in 1893, stand the test of time and are an inspiration for nurses around the world today. As you perform your civic duty this month, remember to use well the power that you have – “the power of PVC” There is the need for nurses to bring their knowledge and strategic expertise about health and healthcare into greater leadership positions.
Reflecting on the Florence Nightingale contention of health, nursing is not just about providing care. Nursing is about the general commitment to the values of mankind, freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature, observance of human rights, and assurance of sustainable developmental and environmental protection. This commitment involves spiritual, social economic and environmental consideration. Fortunately, nurses have direct experience and a thorough knowledge of the health care needs of individuals, families, and communities. Positioning nurses at the highest level of organization governance will result in better health for all.
Unfortunately, the lack of influential nurses within the healthcare system and governments has handicapped nursing. However, in order to control practice and move the profession of nursing forward as a major player in health care arena, nurses must be involved in politics and “see policy as something they can shape rather than something that happens to them” (Institute of Medicine report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health 2011).
Nursing remains the backbone of any healthcare system in the world. Seventy percent of the health workforce is nursing. If we are to achieve better health for all people, it will be through evidence that we are a strong profession, committed to sound nursing and health policies and practices. We must be skilled in Policy, Politics, and Care (PPC).
Nursing as a community and as part of a global society needs to be engaged in all aspects of health policy. It is essential for nurses to become actively involved in political action to ensure appropriate decisions for the nursing profession, client care and the healthcare system.
As the election draws closer, the hope is that every Nigerian Nurse seize the opportunity to reflect upon the direction of nursing and potential to be a change agent in building a better future for health care through the electoral process.
The Ministry in its National Strategic Health Development Plan emphasized that the health care system in Nigeria is in urgent need of major improvements in policy, infrastructure, delivery systems, education and training. These problems with increasing complexity of our healthcare environment and social economic issues have presented a new set of challenges and opportunities for nursing across the country. Nursing is in the best position to address the problems confronting our healthcare system today. However, we cannot do much if we are not at the table. So, we have to get involved in politics and be part of the policy making decision and planning.
Lyndon B. Johnson once said, “We must open the doors of opportunity. But we must also equip ourselves to walk through those doors.” This is why it is important that we continue to equip ourselves with the tools needed to get involved in politics and policy making. Nurses perspective and influence must be felt more at decision-making tables. However, nursing cannot effectively accomplish this goal and open the doors of opportunities without getting involved.
On behalf of every Nigerian nurse, we applaud all our colleagues who are on the ballot in this year’s election, especially Smart Madu Ajaja and pray for success for everyone. We hope that many more nurses will follow the footsteps of these brave nurses. This is a commendable endeavour. It reminds me of the famous I Have a Dream Speech of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on August 28, 1963 that states, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
As I write this today, I believe that with your passion for nursing, the nursing profession in Nigeria will become one of the best in the world! Keep up the good work and continue to raise the awareness that Nigerians would benefit from the unique perspective of nurses to achieve the goals of good governance and improved health, efficient and effective health care systems at the local, state and national levels.
REMEMBER: “Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive, because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive, because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny.” - Mahatma Gandhi
Dr. Grace Ogiehor-Enoma DHA, MSN, MPH, NE-BC, RN
Your Partner in bringing nurses to the table in Healthcare
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