This article was written to celebrate The World Health Day 2020
Etymologically, the word “Nurse” is derived from the Latin word for nourish. It was linked with nurturing, caring, comforting and other maternal types of behavior that are seen by the society. Since the beginning of time, promoting health, circumventing illnesses and caring for the sick has always been a concern and certainly not the entitlement of any single occupation.
Nursing and midwifery personnel constitute the largest group of health professionals and are traditionally the closest of the health professionals to the community. Public health is simply the approach to medicine that is concerned with the help of the community as a whole and there is therefore an unending role nurses and midwives can play to better health of everyone everywhere. The orientation and training of nurses and midwives puts them in a very close position to the community such that they understand and can relate with every member of the community and we can therefore say nurses and midwives are reliable linkages between the health and other sectors to work together in improving the community health status. Over the years, there has been a continuing change in the healthcare world, nurses and midwives are being and will continue to be influenced by these changes and therefore have important contributions to make to developing and implementing strategies for health.
The affairs of nurses and midwives are somewhat endless, ranging from providing physical and psychosocial care for patients in hospitals, providing health education for communities, advocating on behalf of the patients to ensure that health needs are addressed appropriately and provision of midwifery care to women and infants. Therefore, investing in nursing can make a huge difference in achieving the WHO millennium development goals (MDGs), nurses and midwives should be encouraged to also carry out researches and collaborate with other members of the health team and also with the university-prepared nurses in carrying out and publishing research works. By doing this, the nurses’ roles in the health systems would need to be reviewed but recognized for better impact and optimum contributor to positive health outcomes. There has been a shift or share of the tasks with other health workers like doctors and pharmacists, hence there has to be expansion in their roles and not only in Nigeria but in the sub-Saharan Africa as a whole because nurses and midwives have earned their respect and has become vital resources for the health of the population.
It is no longer news that diseases that were once eradicated are now reemerging, posing dangerous threats to human lives like never before. There has been an increase demand in healthcare because of certain challenges coming from infectious diseases, malnutrition, maternal and child mortality, mental disorders and post-traumatic stress without any corresponding increase in resources to tackle these threats and so systems must be devised to meet these demands despite the lack of resources. The general focus has been on preventive and community health care that will reduce the cost of curative care placing unaccustomed demand on nurses and midwives and so, the public health curriculum has to be expanded to reach nurses and midwives to equip them with the knowledge and skills to positively influence the health status of the public. Nursing by definition is geared to the service of the community, midwives ensures good care to improve the wellbeing of the mother and also to ensure the safe delivery of the baby and also reduces maternal mortality by rendering family planning services and most of these provided service are always at the community level.
In summary, public health aims to improve the quality of life through preventing and treatment of health creating conditions for a healthy living and while nursing and midwifery care is needed in hospitals, it should also annex public health services.
Happy World Health Day