Despite that nurses are the frontline caregivers, with the most visible bedside presence, who stay with and by patients in times of illness or health, from birth till death, and whose roles in the hospital are akin to the roles played by mothers in families, it appears they are not happy over the way the Nigerian government treats them.
This was disclosed in a statement issued Tuesday in Kaduna by nurses under the aegis of University Graduates of Nursing Science Association (UGONSA) at the ongoing event of the 19th edition of the association’s National Professional Conference and Scientific Update.
In the Statement jointly signed by UGONSA National President, Chief (Hon.) S.E.O. Egwuenu, and National Secretary, Nurse G.I. Nshi, the association lamented what it described as a deliberate suppression and non recognition of the great roles nurses play in the care and well being of Nigerians.
According to the Association, a case in point was the projection of Late Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh to ECOWAS for posthumous honour with the 2018 ECOWAS Prize of Excellence Award and her induction into the women hall of fame by the National Centre for Women Development for paying the supreme price while curbing Ebola without reciprocating similar gesture to Late Nurse Justina Obioma Ejelonu who also paid the supreme price while working to curb the same disease as did late Dr. Adadevoh.
“Honouring Dr. Adadevoh for her contributions towards curbing the spread of Ebola virus in Nigeria by placing the index patient, Patrick Sawyer, in quarantine was a step in the right direction but doing so at the expense of the nurse that implemented the quarantine order and who unfortunately caught the virus in the process of implementing the order and subsequently paid the supreme price like Dr. Adadevoh was a gross injustice.
“Both Dr. Adadevoh and Nurse Ejelonu, were members of the same health team that curbed the spread of Ebola to Nigerians from the First Consultant Hospital Lagos where the index case was admitted and quarantined and both paid the supreme price in the process of quarantining the index case.
“Nurse Ejelonu, a Registered Nurse, who graduated from Ebonyi State University in the year 2010 with Bachelor of Nursing Science (B.N.Sc) degree, was a professional nurse par excellence. She was full of life, energetic and agile with decent dreams and aspirations before she was swept away while in action, saving Nigeria from the Ebola scourge. She was the shining light that beckoned hope for her poor parents and siblings and was two months pregnant, with her wedding to her Fiancé planned for October, 2014 (two months before the sudden twist of fate made her pay the ultimate price for humanity). Today, the Nigerian government has written her off simply because she was a nurse.
“As the Nigerian Government continues to dishonour her, we in the nursing community shall continue to honour and adore her with reverential awe because she is the face of the sacrifices that nurses make on a daily basis to keep Nigerians alive and healthy. We have honoured her with the highest UGONSA honour of Grand Ambassador of Nightingalic Virtues (GANV) and accordingly inducted her into the prestigious UGONSA hall of fame. We have also commenced the process of getting her honoured by the International Nursing Community at the next conference of the International Council of Nurses (ICN). The Nigerian Government should bury its head in shame for portraying its self as a citadel of injustice through its age-long penchant of making two equal things appear as unequal especially in affairs that involve and concern nurses.
The same stark injustice of the Nigerian government against Nigerian Nurses maybe also what informed the deliberate under placement of graduates of Bachelor of Nursing Science (B.N.Sc) degree to the tune of one grade level below their par in our health system.
“Despite that the Nigerian Government gazetted the industrial Arbitration Panel award of the year 1981 which unequivocally granted that in the healthcare system of Nigeria, the profession of Nursing is on parity with that of Pharmacy as is the case in Great Britain, what we witness in Nigeria today is the injustice of deliberate subjugation of fresh graduates of B.N.Sc degree on CONHESS 07 during internship and on CONHESS 08 post-NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) whereas their counterparts from other core healthcare disciplines (such as Pharmacy, Med Lab, Physiotherapy, etc.) with similar entry requirements and course duration for the first degree are placed on CONHESS 08 during internship and on CONHESS 09 post-NYSC.
“With subjugation of fresh graduates of nursing to a tune of one grade level below their par, the Nigerian Government whimsically portrayed nurses as subservient to other core healthcare disciplines as it did in the case of Late Nurse Ejelonu.
“Mounting evidence shows that under placement and consequent poor remuneration of Nigerian nurses psychologically traumatizes them and is the single most responsible factor for their mass exodus to foreign countries where they are well placed, remunerated, recognized and appreciated for their great contributions in care delivery. Since the care of mankind has been entrusted unto nurses, they must be motivated and not traumatized to carry out this task effectively and efficiently.
“Nurses are to the healthcare system what mothers are to families. Any family in which the mother is empowered is eternally progressive but families where mothers are subjugated and trampled upon (as done to nurses in the Nigeria health system) never make any inch of progress. This explains why Nigeria health system is almost the ‘first from behind’ in the ranking of the world’s performing and responsive health systems.
“Proper placement will motivate nurses and oil their latitude to meeting the increasing complexity of health needs, which nurses are in the frontline to drive. We dare say that medical tourism by government officials and affluent Nigerians to other countries shall surely abate with adequate motivation of nurses through proper placement and enhanced remuneration. This is because with a motivated nursing workforce, we stand to get in Nigeria hospitals what is obtainable in high-ranking hospitals in other countries.
We therefore verily call on well meaning Nigerians and the media to prevail on the powers-that-be to recognize and honour Late Nurse Justina Obioma Ejelonu for her selfless and great sacrifice in curtailing Ebola scourge in Nigeria as has been done for Late Dr Stella Ameyo Adadevoh and to give nurses their due and eligible right of placement at par with their counterparts in other core healthcare professions in the spirit of equity and fairness.
“Keeping quiet in the face of injustice is not golden. Silence in such a situation portrays acceptance of the injustice and, at worst, complicity in perpetuating it – the statement concluded.
CHIEF (HON.) S.E.O. EGWUENU NURSE G.I. NSHI
National President National Secretary