The nursing and midwifery profession in Uganda like in any other part of the world has advanced tremendously in the past one and a half decade following the introduction of other nursing programs both at bachelors and master’s level. However, alot still needs to be done to ensure that the healthcare system and the community at large benefits from this fortune.
Worldwide, regulated professions are led by three bodies. These include; the union, council and associations. Each body has a significant role to play for the profession to develop and support its members. In Uganda for example, the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council (UNMC) is a statutory body established by the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Act, 1996 to regulate the training and practice of nursing and midwifery profession so as to ensure public safety.
The Council has the mandate to protect the public from unsafe nursing and midwifery practices; ensure quality of nursing and midwifery services; foster development of the nursing and midwifery profession; and confer responsibility, accountability, identity, and status of the Nurses/Midwives. It has undergone series of legislation since 1922. However, the present council is governed by the 1996 Nurses Act and supports the government in implementation of the strategic position in regard to health care system strengthening.
Another body is the Uganda Nurses and Midwives union (UNMU). This is a labor organization which was registered by registrar of trade unions in 2003 and has since been involved in improving the welfare of Nurses and midwives in the country with the most recent achievement being the negotiation for the increment of lunch allowance. This benefited all medical workers despite their affiliation. The union provides legal representation and scholarship support to nurses and midwives and this ultimately improves the image of the profession and living conditions of nurses and midwives in the country.
The last body comprises of professional associations. Uganda so far has registered over seven professional nursing and midwifery associations in a space of only twenty (20) years and thanks to the professional growth that has given birth to numerous cadres and specialties. These associations include; Association of Graduate Nurses and Midwives of Uganda (AGNMU), Critical Care Nursing Association of Uganda (CCNAU), Uganda Private Midwives Association (UPMA), National Association of Midwives of Uganda (NMAU), Public Health Nurses Association, Nursing society of Uganda, Emblem International, Peadiatrc Nurses association and the newly registered Federation of Uganda Nurses and Midwives Limited. At this point, we can’t commit that we shall have only these associations because, these are member led organizations and are formed based on interest of the members.
Therefore, any organized group with a clear mission and objectives, they will always look for a uniting factor and this calls for forming a joint association. Whereas we have seen many associations get formed with a clear vision to advocate for professional development, their impact remains minimal and therefore, we need to re-evaluate their contribution in terms of professional development and improving the status of its members.
Nonetheless, these professional associations have plenty of experienced professionals in different fields such as research, administration, education and clinical practice.
It is therefore paramount for the nursing and midwifery sector in the country to embrace these bodies, make a formidable force with strong synergy if the nurses and midwives are to benefit from their calling. We need each body to perform its role and be supported with the necessary resources from sister bodies to achieve the overall strategic direction of the nurses and midwives in Uganda.
The authors are; Muramuzi Dan; BSc Nurse, MSc Health services Research and member of the Association of Graduate Nurses and Midwives of Uganda (AGNMU) &
Lilian Nuwabaine Luyima; BSc Nurse & MSN-Midwife & Women’s’ Health Specialist & is the Heroes in Health Award Winner-Midwife of the year 2021