Nurses are over worked in Africa, WHO laments

By Hassan Zaggi

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has raised concern that nurses in the Africa are overworked and therefore called on governments and stakeholders to rise to the challenge.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, who raised the concern in a message marking the year 2020 International Day of Nurses, on Tuesday, disclosed that in the African Region, the ratio of nurses to the population is 9 per 10,000.

“In villages and towns across the continent, nurses are taking on the lion’s share of providing routine health services and emergency response.

“To overcome shortages, countries are training two nurses for every retiring nurse, but this would need to increase by at least 10% each year, to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target.

“At the same time, there are rising concerns of unemployment among nurses in Africa.

“To better understand and address these challenges, six countries[1] have conducted labour market analyses to make the case for more investment in the health workforce,” she said.

The WHO Regional Director, however, called on stakeholders to ensure that nurses have the needed supplies and equipment to safely deliver care as they respond to the Covid-19.

She also charged leaders around the world to ensure that nurses have easy access to counselling and support for their mental health and psychological needs.

Moeti, however, congratulated nurses in the African region for what she described as “your contributions every day to promoting health, keeping the world safe and serving the vulnerable.”

According to the WHO Regional Director, “it is clear that great work is underway to strengthen nursing in Africa, but more investment is needed.

“So, today, on the International Day of the Nurse, I call on governments, academic institutions, civil society organizations, and partners to invest in accelerating nursing education, job creation, career pathways, and leadership at all levels.”

She, however, expressed concern that almost 1000 health workers in the African Region have been infected with COVID-19, many of them are nurses, working closely with communities.

“With public and private partners, we must do more to ensure nurses and other front-line workers have access to personal protective equipment, so that they can safely provide essential services to communities,” she said.

She disclosed that WHO has trained over 3000 front-line health workers in Africa, including many nurses, through interactive webinars on infection prevention and control and case management.

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