KARACHI: “The dedication with which nurses and midwives continue to work during these challenging times is exemplary and, in their absence, healthcare facilities will not be able to function properly,” Dr Azra Pechuho, Sindh Minister for Health and Population, observed while speaking at a virtual seminar held to celebrate International Nurses Day and 2020 Year of the Nurse and the Midwife on May 12.
She also emphasized on the importance of higher education, affiliating nursing colleges and schools with medical universities to promote undergraduate degrees and of encouraging practicing nurses to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees while continuing to work in order to ensure the availability of highly skilled and competent professionals equipped to take on public health challenges and to shape the future of our healthcare system.
The speakers were unanimous in describing nurses and midwives as the lynchpin of healthcare around the world and investing in these health professionals represented an investment in resilient health systems that can be the first line of defence against international crises such as COVID-19.
They also reckoned that focusing on the needs of nurses and midwives could help considerably in meeting people’s health needs and expectations Nurses and midwives make up the largest group of healthcare professionals and are often the first point of care for individuals and families.
Yet, there was a global shortage of these health professionals and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that an additional nine million nurses and midwives will be needed by 2030 for universal health coverage.
Ms Afshan Nazli, President of the Pakistan Nursing Council, also praised the courage and services of frontline nurses and midwives stepping up during this pandemic. Dr Rozina Karmaliani, interim dean of AKU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, noted that one of the ways to address the shortage of highly skilled nurses was by creating opportunities for the many nursing diploma holders in the country to complete a bachelor’s degree.
The AKUH interim CEO, Shagufta Hassan, stressed that in order to reposition the profession, it was equally important for nurses to be able to advocate for themselves and pose as equal partners dedicated to improving the healthcare journey of patients.
Keynote addresses from Dr Salimah Meghani, professor, University of Pennsylvania, USA, and Shelley Nowland, chief nursing and midwifery officer, Queensland Health, Australia, shared how nursing and midwifery practices have transformed in the past few decades in their regions–PNFS