Thriving in Nursing and Midwifery Profession: Advocacy continues during International Nurses Day Celebrations

On various occasions, I have heard some people say, “Nursing is not a political act; that we should not engage in politics.” But the truth of the matter is, that every action we do as nursing and midwifery professionals is affected by politics.

It’s important to note that Nurses and Midwives have a unique perspective on healthcare and patient care that should be heard in policy discussions. Advocacy is a core component of the nursing and midwifery practice.

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This year, the Nursing fraternity was humbled to host Her Excellency the Vice President of the Republic of Uganda – Jessica Rose Epel Alupo (on behalf of President H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni), as the Guest of Honour, on 17th May 2024 in Rukungiri district during the International Nurses Day Celebrations. 

In attendance were other stakeholders like Cabinet ministers, Hon Members of Parliament, the Ministry of Health, professional bodies, heads of health facilities and training institutions, district health teams, district political leaders, religious leaders among many others. 

The event was organized by the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union (UNMU) and the leadership team from Rukungiri district. 

When called upon, the president of the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union – Mr Cherop Justus Kiplangat highlighted the following;

Achievements by the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union (UNMU)

  1. UNMU negotiated Salary enhancement for nurses and midwives for financial year 2022/2023. 
  2. UNMU acquired Midwifery Kits from our partners for Health Centers III & IV in Uganda
  3. UNMU offers insurance cover to UNMU members through ICEA ie decent burial and compensation. 
  4. UNMU is paying school fees for over 80 children for fallen colleagues under the Girl Child Project
  5. UNMU received 19 State House scholarships that enabled UNMU to train nurses and midwives. 
  6. UNMU supplied Personal protective equipment (PPEs) to Ebola affected areas in 2023
  7. UNMU graduated 12 nurses with post graduate diploma in critical care in collaboration and fully supported by Health Carousel, USA.
  8. Acquired 10 acres of land in Mukono to establish Uganda Nurses and Midwives Specialized University (UNMSU) 
  9.  A Memorandum of understanding (MOU) between UNMU and MAHSA Malaysia University (a Private University in Malaysia) was signed
  10. Successfully hosted the 01st Africa Confederation of Nurses and Midwives Conference in November 2023 at Seeta Mukono,
  11. UNMU has over 50 branches of SACCOs across the whole of Uganda

Challenges affecting Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union and the entire Nursing and Midwifery fraternity.

Staff welfare.

  1. Districts still find it difficult to release nurses to go for further studies due to restricted staffing norms, which has also affected the annual leaves for the nurses and midwives. 
  2. Nurses’ and Midwives’ SACCO capacity is still low.
  3. Task shifting in clinical practice
  4. Inadequate Personal Protective Equipments  
  5. Scheme of service not fully operationalized 
  6. Failure to complete the review of the 1996 Nurses Act

Education and training for nurses and midwives

  1. The demand for nurses and midwives to get scholarship is high but UNMU has limited capacity to offer to all 
  2. Beneficiaries of the 198 State House scholarships 2022 and 2023 are yet to receive school fees.
  3. Limited funding to construct the specialized university.
  4. Limited research funds 

Socio-economic Constraints 

  1. Nurses and midwives are receiving loans at high interest rates from commercial banks.
  2. Poor housing for the nurses and midwives 

The President of Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union, Mr Cherop went ahead to highlight the following Nurses and midwives’ Requests. 

  1. Clear the outstanding school fees for the 198 beneficiaries of state house scholarships (pending) before exams begin in June 2024
  2. More scholarships for Ugandan nurses and midwives 
  3. Financial support of five billion for the university project
  4. Review of the staffing norms for nurses and midwives and operationalize the scheme of service for nurses and midwives.
  5. Complete revision of the 1996 Nurses Act
  6. Financing the Nurses and midwives housing project 
  7. SEED fund through UNMU SACCOs to facilitate soft loans for the nurses and midwives
  8. Funding of the nurses and midwives’ research projects 
  9. Job security for nurses and midwives when they go for further education.

The author is; Lilian Nuwabaine Luyima; BSc Nurse & MSN-Midwife & Women’s’ Health Specialist, Researcher & Heroes in Health Award Winning Midwife

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