Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has said that nursing and midwifery professions were the hubs around which the health system revolved.
He said it was therefore necessary that conscious efforts were made to develop the professions to meet the local needs and international standards to take advantage of the international recruitment opportunities.
The Vice President made these statements in a speech read on his behalf by the Volta Regional Minister, Dr Archibald Yao Letsa at the 18th Biennial National Delegates Conference of the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association (GRNMA), currently underway in Ho, in the Volta Region.
He said efforts required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and Universal Health Coverage by the year 2030, could not be devoid of the development of nurses and midwives.
Dr Bawumia said the government was aware of the challenges confronting the nursing and midwifery professions and had therefore had a meeting with Madam Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo, President of GRNMA on many issues including nursing and midwifery education, welfare, employer and employee, and COVID-19 related.
He said necessary steps were being taken to ensure that issues discussed at the meeting were addressed with the urgency they deserved to motivate members of the GRNMA to continue to deliver effective and quality services to Ghanaians.
The Vice President was optimistic that Ghanaians would continue to experience “competent and safe” healthcare delivery from the nurses and midwives in line with the fourth industrial revolution, taking into consideration the revised curricula and procedure manual for training and practice of nursing and midwifery.
“For our nurses and midwives including trainees to meet international standards of nursing and midwifery practice and training, the Ministry of Health through the Nursing and Midwifery Council and in collaboration with the GRNMA and the World Continuing Education Alliance in Spain have introduced a free digital platform to attain professional development courses.”
He said renewal of license to practice as a Nurse or Midwife as according to the Health Professions Regulatory Bodies Act 2013 (Act 857) has been digitised to ease the burden of practitioners having to travel from far distances to the regional offices of the Council.
The Vice President said GRNMA had contributed significantly to the nursing and midwifery professions and the health care delivery in the country and commended the Association for how far they have come.
He said in 2018, the country through the Nursing and Midwifery Council conducted an online licensing examination for Nursing and Midwifery trainees, as the first African country to introduce the initiative.
The Vice President said Ghana would continue to provide professional and technical support to countries that would want to strengthen their nursing and midwifery regulations.
Touching on the theme: “The future of nursing and midwifery in Ghana: Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr Bawumia underscored the need for all to support the government to build the health sector to impact positively on the health of all Ghanaians.
He said the strategies put in place by the government played a significant role in the fight against the novel coronavirus and expressed appreciation to the GRNMA for supporting the government in the fight.
Dr Bawumia said the government never took its eyes off the data and science of the pandemic as the data and science-informed the decisions about how to respond to the pandemic in the country in terms of ‘Tracing,’ ‘Testing’ and ‘Treatment’ of both confirmed and potential cases.
He mentioned the Ghana Infectious Disease Centre (GIDC), developed by the COVID-19 Private Sector Fund, a private sector-led initiative with its state of the art equipment as one positive response to the pandemic.
The Vice President said the government’s priority was to accelerate vaccination to achieve herd immunity and minimise transmission of the virus.
Dr Bawumia said the battle against the disease was not over yet and urged citizens to continue observing the protocols “until such a time when the data and science will inform us to do otherwise.”
Mrs Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo, President of GRNMA called on the government to urgently consider the provision of full sponsorship for nurses and midwives who go for the Residency programme at the Ghana College of Nurses and Midwives (GCNM).
On work ethics, she stated they have seen an increasing rise in the number of nurses and midwives plagued by drug addiction which has exposed the unprofessional way in which such cases were wrongly handled instead of providing the required support systems.
“In many of those cases, such persons are vilified and rather punished by the system. We wish to assure all our employers that we are willing to collaborate in terms of developing clear policies and protocols on addressing drug addiction among nurses and midwives and other health workers, and wish to use this opportunity to call for the establishment of referral pathways and the creation of support systems, especially rehabilitation units in every region or District to support such persons.”
She added her call to the government to ratify the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019, commonly referred to as C190.
Professor Lydia Aziato, Dean of the School of Nursing and Midwifery of the University of Ghana, Legon, who was the special guest, in her keynote address, recommended GRNMA to spearhead vaccine education activities and engage all stakeholders to enhance its acceptance.
He further called for efforts to be made to employ hybrid and innovative ways to train nurses and midwives using decentralised, community-based centres.