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Urgent need for nursing department in FMOH

The significance and the current sickening state of the country’s healthcare delivery underscore the urgent need for a well coordinated and supervised nursing service in…

The significance and the current sickening state of the country’s healthcare delivery underscore the urgent need for a well coordinated and supervised nursing service in the health sector to guarantee quality healthcare for Nigerians.

 However, it is most aggrieving to observe that 28 years after the Industrial Arbitration Panel recommended the creation of Department of Nursing in the Federal Ministry of Health, which would guarantee the required organisation and coordination, nothing has not been so created. It is even more terrifying to observe that there doesn’t seem to be any plan in sight for the creation of the department.

The gladdening advantages of the department are not far-fetched. Most importantly, by virtue of the fact that nurses constitute the bulk of the population of healthcare delivery professionals, the creation of a department in the Federal Ministry of Health to sufficiently organise, coordinate and mobilise them for quality healthcare delivery according to any emerging policy of government as well as minister to their professional and service needs in the emerging times is too essential to be delayed in the Nigeria of today.

With this department as an able instrument, nurses training can be organised and coordinated better; their professional conduct monitored better; their entitlements, rights and priviledges better ensured; and their roles in the healthcare delivery sector better fine-tuned and reviewed.

A Department of Nursing will also create, foster and sustain the needed collaboration, corroboration and relationship of cordiality between nurses and other professionals in the healthcare delivery field.

Very importantly also, the department will facilitate the very reliable over-all appraisal of the performance of the healthcare sector with the nursing service, the larger component of the healthcare service intertwining with its sister services in the sector in one general performance rating and appraisal for a more reliable fine-tuning and re-positioning of the entire system according to the needs of the changing times.

Considering these and many other advantages of the department, the delay in its creation under the Federal Ministry of Health is a major setback, not only for the nursing profession and service in the healthcare sector, but also, at varying degrees, for all other services in the sector.

What does the setback mean? The healthcare system holds up this huge component to the ridicule of its sister components, let alone to the teeming operators in all other sectors of public service, in terms of the possession of some measure of pride and integrity with regard to the ownership of a distinct identity and operational base. A department carves an identity for the service it is created to serve as base. The nursing service virtually lacks a clear and proud identity in the public service system because it lacks the department in the administrative establishment that should provide it with that base.

The setback very sickeningly also implies that nurses will continue to be deprived many administrative and resource benefits and privileges that should normally be accruable or, at least, deserved by professionals of their status of essentialness in the public of Nigeria. This could be a very dangerous deprivation on the scale of the essentialness of the nursing service in the organised human society.

Lack of a department for nurses means lack of voice for nurses in health matters in the country’s public service and in such matters between the country and any other country, or countries, and organisations at the international level in situations giving the nurses the right or privilege of say. What Nigerian nurses now say? Nothing. They have no voice because they have no platform in form of a department in the Federal Ministry of Health to lend them that voice.

It is still a matter for bafflement why the Federal Ministry of Health has failed to create the department. Will the department pose any threat to the ministry or to any of its functionaries? Don’t nurses deserve the department, in spite of the recommendation by the Industrial Arbitration Panel for its creation? Are resources available to the ministry over time so meager that they cannot accommodate an additional department? Are nursing services so inconsequential that creating a department for them is a waste of government resources? What, really, is delaying the creation of the department? If the ministry has resolved not allow its creation, why?

Whatever constitutes a stumbling block to the creation of the department in the ministry, Nigerians believe nursing services and the duties nurses perform in providing adequate healthcare are too essential and significant for any stumbling block to delay or completely negate the creation of the Department of Nursing in the Federal Ministry of Health. It is time the department was created for the sake of quality healthcare delivery in Nigeria.

Dutsinma is the President of National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM).