In The Spirit Of Nightingale

The Ghana Registered Nurses & Midwives Association (GRNMA) is in the news for a worrying reason.

The leadership of the association has not threatened to embark on an industrial action but rather asked members of the noble profession to abandon isolation wards of health facilities where these are not provided with the necessary protective gears for nurses to don.

We are compelled to recall the sacrifices made by the originator of what is today the nursing profession. Of course we are not oblivious to the fact these are modern times different from the days of the lady with the lamp during the Crimean War. Those were days when her support to the wounded was purely voluntary and therefore driven by humanitarian factors.

 Of course health providers being human with families to cater for should not expose themselves to life-threatening situations. They should be supplied with the necessary tools to protect themselves and to deliver as per the required standards of the practice.  

We, however, think that issuing a press release asking nurses to abandon isolation wards where such facilities are bereft of the necessary protective materials and the tone contained therein sounds a bit bellicose and scary. It can only aggravate an already tense situation. We are trying not to think that our nurses are being incited by the tone of the statement.  

Being the frontline managers in the health delivery system, nobody doubts the importance of nurses. We, however, think that the statement could have been crafted alternatively without sounding inciting.  

The impression such a statement can convey is that government has not done enough to provide nurses and for that matter others involved in our war with the virus in the light of the confirmation of now six coronavirus cases in the country.

The release of $100 million by government in response to the pandemic for us is sufficient evidence of its seriousness in managing the outbreak. No government would shirk their responsibilities even under such circumstances. The response as evidenced by the $100m encompasses everything that needs to be done to manage the situation the welfare of medical delivery personnel included.

The war we are facing demands a shared and frontal attack by all of us frontline personnel and their compatriots.  

It will be unwise to ignore the welfare of nurses and irresponsibly expose them to avoidable danger. What sense will it make when you lose the fighters on the frontline by denying them what they need to be effective?

Under the present circumstances, creating panic should be the last feature we wish to see in the country.

We would rather the GRNMA encouraged its members to add a touch of empathy to their assignments in the isolation wards and outside them with lamps where these are unavailable.