A global nurse advocate, Mr Josiah Jackson-Okesola, says that investing in nurses and midwives to take the lead in transforming public health is critical to improving public health post-COVID-19 pandemic.
Jackson-Okesola, also a mental health consultant and public health analyst, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.
“The health challenges of the 21st Century cannot be overcome without strengthening the nursing and midwifery workforce of the country.
“It is time to give nurses more recognition, investment and influence.
“Nurses and midwives are found in every single neighbourhood across the country, providing an unparalleled opportunity for Nigeria to strategically address its nagging health dilemma by properly deploying the number and strength of nurses.
“If rightly valued, nursing skills can provide meaningful public health interventions across all health and social care settings and enhance public health transformation,” he said.
The advocate also urged the government to prioritise investment in improving nurses’ working conditions, training, leadership skills and involvement in health decision-making.
According to him, such investment will enhance health, promote gender rights of women and strengthen local economies.
“It is abysmally absurd that up till this present moment, in spite of recommendations, there is no Directorate of Nursing Services at the Federal Ministry of Health.
“Also discouraging is the placement of professional nurses at the lower cadre of the civil service ladder.
“These are some of the significant and age-long misfortunes destroying the morale of the nursing workforce which the Federal Government must urgently address,” he said.
Jackson-Okesola urged nurses and midwives to work harder and do more in driving health promotion, disease prevention and treatment, through greater patient participation and an increasing focus on community and primary health care.
He also urged the nurses to push aggressively to showcase the invaluable insights their unique position in the health system gave them.
“Nigerian nursing leaders must begin to understand the severe implications of not providing enough opportunities for their members to develop new models of care that maximise nursing’s contributions to achieving a better and stronger healthcare system for the country, ” he said.