As International nurses day 2021 celebrations were a climax of a week – long celebratory activities that begun on 5th May 2021 under the theme Nurses: A Voice to Lead, A Visions for Future Healthcare.
The nursing profession is not an easy profession but a good and very rewarding profession with a reach history of compassion and care for the sick and suffering in community, drawing from the example of Florence Nightingale who founded the first nursing school in the world and whom we celebrate today.
Globally there are close to 26 million nurses, to achieve the set SDGs targets we lack close to 6 million nurses globally. In Rwanda we lack close to 6,000 nurses for the country to meet SDGs targets. Rwanda has 10,142 nurses and midwives among them close to 8,000 are nurses and the rest are midwives. Therefore in terms of staffing the number of nurses is still very low compared to the population they serve hence leaving a very big staffing gap.
Amidst the challenges of staffing the nursing profession has continued to grow and register tremendous achievements in the last 15 years. These can be manifested from the improvement in reduction of child mortality rates, death of expectant mothers, reduction of NCDs and other diseases, increase in life expectancy of Rwandans to mention but a few. Nurses are central to these tremendous achievements.
In his words, the RNMU president Andre Gitembagara said “This celebration of nurses and midwives days offers us an opportunity to reflect, celebrate and strengthen our achievements over the years” and was shown from some of the presentations presented by the different health facilities it is clear that a lot has been achieved.
It is worth to note the positive trends registered, before the genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda had less than 400 nurses and 03 midwives only, and today we have over 8,000 nurses and over 2,000 midwives.
This is worth celebrating.
Legislation is another important milestone worth celebrating. With the help of the National Council for Nurses and Midwives, regulations have been put in place to not only regulate but also organise the nursing and midwifery profession.
Advocacy is another aspect that RNMU has greatly registered as a success. In collaboration with various associations like Rwanda Midwives Association etc we work together to understand, evaluate and solve challenges that from time to time affect nurses and midwives.
Despite of the challenges registered so far, there are still underlying challenges in educating nurses. We still have few nursing instructors / lecturers compared to the number of students, inadequate practical facilities in nursing schools, hence affecting the quality of education received by our nursing students. We take this opportunity to request for formation of skilling labs in teaching hospitals.
Another challenge is under staffing as compared to the population of citizens in Rwanda. The ratio of nurses to the population is low. We still have a ratio of 1 nurse to over 1,200 patients this has an impact on the quality of service delivery in our health facilities.
We further still have instabilities in the nature of our employment. There is need to stabilize employment contracts of our members. Job stability and security is important to ensure delivery of quality service.