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2024 Nurses Week: We deserve better pay – Anambra Nurses lament



By Praise Chinecherem

Registered nurses practicing in Anambra State on Tuesday, embarked on a rally across major streets in Awka, to raise awareness on the importance of the nursing profession in the nation’s healthcare system, as well as the teething challenges militating against smooth nursing practice in Nigeria.

The nurses, who bore banners and placards with inscriptions such as ‘Say no to quackery,’ ‘Nurses are poorly paid,’ ‘We deserve better,’ ‘Review our salaries,’ ‘Nurses against oppression,’ ‘Happy Nursing Week,’ among others, are also complaining about the new verification guidelines introduced for them by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria, NMCN, for travels outside the country.

The new guidelines state that practicing nurses would have to wait for as long as six months to get verified, while newly graduated nurses will have to do a two-year service before getting verified, in addition to a letter of good standing from their employees.

The event is also to mark the 2024 Nursing Week in Anambra State, which comes up annually from the 6th to the 12th of May every year, to celebrate Nurses and their impact in the healthcare system.

State Coordinator of the 2024 Nurses Voice Rally, Nurse Onyedika Onyeogulu said they want to use the rally to draw the attention of the three arms of government to the plight of the Nurses and appeal for their intervention over the new guidelines attached to their verification as nurses traveling outside to either study or work.

According to her, there is no reason the government should not look into the matter and review the guidelines, because, “If a nurse travels outside to study and come back, it is for the betterment of the country because they will learn new things. On the other hand, if they are traveling out to work, they going to acquire more wealth and experience and still come back here because Nigeria is our country.”

Nurse Onyeogulu also hinted at the poor remuneration of nurses, which she said, is not commensurate to the dangers they are exposed to daily at their workplace.

She said; “The remuneration for our work is not commensurate to the risk we expose ourselves to.

“Nurses are the first risk-takers in the hospital. Once a person enters a hospital, irrespective of whatever condition they have- Ebola, Lassa fever, COVID, Tuberculosis name it, nurses are the first to attend to them before they are identified.

“Although there are standard precautions to be taken before patients are approached, we are still the first to have contact with the patients. If we are the first risk-takers, we need to be treated as the ultimate.

“So I am begging the government to look at this issue because it is not about us, but about the people we serve.

“Another message from this rally is that we do not want quacks in our hospitals. If they are not registered nurses, they are not nurses.

“We do not have mini-nurses or hospital-trained nurses. Why we are passing this message is for our people to safeguard their lives.”

A registered practitioner, Nurse Chisom Obiesie said the verification rules do not sit well with them, insisting that the question the NMCN should be asking is- what is the reason for the mass exodus of nurses from the country?

“Finding the root causes and tackling them will make nurses stay because nobody wants to leave a conducive environment.

It’s not all roses outside the country but they should ask why the nurses are insisting on leaving.

“Introducing stringent rules to prevent them from traveling doesn’t really make any sense.

“Tying them down for two years and they do not deliver excellent services does not make sense.

“So, they should just identify the problems and address them and the nurses will have no need to leave Nigeria,” she said.

For Nurse Chukwuemeka Chinedu Joseph, the verification is not in the best interest of the nurses but in the interest of those who want to enslave nurses in Nigeria, accusing those introducing the guidelines of producing quacks in collaboration with the private hospitals and killing the value of Nursing in Nigeria.

“A lot of Nurses want to leave the country because how could you be paying a nurse below N50,000 at this very critical time?

“Everybody is leaving for greener pastures abroad- doctors, physiotherapists, medical lab scientists, and other practitioners in the health system. But they want Nurses to stay back.

“Take, for instance, the case of Mohbad. The nurse that handled that matter was not a registered nurse and the situation was not managed very well. Maybe if it were a nurse that went through the rigorous process to get their certificate as a nurse, maybe Mohbad may not have died.

“Registered Nurses are conscious of their licenses and would do everything within their capacity to protect their licenses. Why people are dying in the hospitals is because of the majority of quacks that abound,” he said.

Also speaking, Nurse Winnie Ogbonnaya posited that although it’s nurses’ week and they are supposed to be celebrated, the truth is that there is actually no reason to celebrate.

In her words, “You go to school and become a registered nurse or midwife and you proceed to acquire your BSN, but your salary is not up to N100,000.

“There are myriads of problems mitigating the smooth nursing practice in the country. We should be allowed to practice where we want to. Let them treat nurses the way they ought to be treated.

“In decent climes, nurses are respected but here, it is an entirely different story altogether.”

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