A healthy population is essential and serves as a solid foundation for sustainable socio-economic development.
This assertion makes the role of healthcare professionals, particularly nurses, who make up the majority of the workforce in the health sector, very critical.
By their scope of practice and approach to patient care, nurses have been described as the backbone of the health delivery system and play a critical role globally.
They are often the first and sometimes the only health professionals who people see and the quality of their initial assessment, care and treatment is vital.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), nurses account for more than half of all the world’s health workers, yet there is an urgent shortage of nurses worldwide, with 5.9 million more nurses still needed, especially in low and middle-income countries.
Even with this situation, lack of avenues for employment, poor remuneration and access to higher education remains major challenges for nurses.
This is compounded by ill-equipped health facilities, forcing nurses to work under very trying conditions, often at the detriment of their health.
In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses also serve as key front liners in the dispensation of health services, and in this way face a whole lot of risks, including getting infected.
Nurses, and, indeed, all healthcare workers, need psychological support, as well as adequate resources and personal protective equipment (PPE) at all levels to effectively respond to and control the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many nurses trained in Ghana are opting to work abroad, not only for better salaries and progression of careers but also because of the lack of jobs in Ghana.
There is also the challenge of inadequate capacity of training institutions, low staff morale, poor distribution and serious workforce shortages.
The COVID-19 has re-enforced the fact that services of nurses are critical now more than ever, and that it is essential that governments support and invest in nurses.
That is why, as a country, Ghana cannot ignore the advice by the WHO to invest in nursing jobs, education and leadership.
The global agency has emphasised that by developing their nursing workforces, countries could achieve the triple impact of improving health, promoting gender equality and supporting economic growth.
In fact, it is time to fast-track the process of financial clearance for graduate nurses for recruitment to address shortfalls in staffing levels.
To commemorate the 2020 World Nurses Day, which was observed last Tuesday, May 12, it is most appropriate to recognise the invaluable sacrifice, dedication and services of nurses.
We think it is also appropriate, to urge and encourage nurses to continue to dutifully discharge their services to society.
We also want to encourage duty bearers to ensure higher nurse-to-patient ratios to improve the quality of care.
However, it is not just the numbers of nurses that will make a difference. It is said that our reward is in heaven, but we will appreciate it if those in the nursing profession can at least be appreciated and rewarded while they go about their day-to-day activities.
Source: Daily Graphic
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