Nurses’ and midwives’ critical role to the provision of health services in the Seychelles strongly articulated at the launching of the Year of the Nurse and Midwife”

Nurses and midwives are the backbone of every health system. They account for 50% of the global health workforce, their roles diverse from devoting their lives to caring for mothers and children, giving lifesaving immunizations and health advice and looking after all age group including the older people. They are often, the first point of care in the communities. However, the nursing’s contribution to the achievements in health has received limited recognition to date. To honor the critical role nurses and midwives play to achieving universal health coverage (UHC) and the sustainable development goals (SDGs), the World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife.

On Friday 21st February 2020, at the Avani Hotel, Barbarons, Seychelles officially launched its national campaign to celebrate the active role of nurses and midwives in meeting everyday essential health needs of its population. The launching ceremony was graced by the President of the Republic, his Excellency Danny Faure, who also holds the portfolio for Health. It was the Designated Minister Macsuzy Mondon, who is also the Patron for the Nurses Association of the Republic of Seychelles (NARS) who officially launched the campaign, in the presence of the newly appointed Secretary of State for Health Mrs. Marie-Pierre Lloyd and the WHO Representative for Seychelles Dr. Teniin Gakuruh. This was done in the presence of some 200 nurses and midwives who are currently practicing or retired from the public and private sector.

Speaking on behalf of Honorable President Faure, Mrs. Mondon spoke of the changing role of the nursing and midwifery profession where nurses and midwives are expected to lead the health system in the attainment of all health goals.

By commemorating this day, we are not just raising awareness on the gold standard in nursing and midwifery care, but also on the challenges and opportunities that exist in these two professions.. Seychelles is very mindful of our diminishing population of nurses and midwives in our hospitals and health centres, which remains a key barrier to providing quality services and programmes”.

Honorable Mondon proceeded to remind nurses and midwives that their strong leadership is needed now more than ever before to address the country’s shortfalls as the world continues to face new health challenges and diseases outbreaks. She reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to invest more in the profession, stating a number of initiatives to be undertaken by the government to build nurses’ and midwives’ capacity as well as their motivation.

Speaking of behalf of the WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus and Regional Director for the African Region, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Representative for Seychelles (WR) Dr. Teniin Gakuruh applauded the government for launching the International Year of the Nurses and Midwives nationally. The WR spoke of WHO’s role and the process through which this critical profession is being highly recognized this year and going forward. She highlighted the key messages for the Year of the Nurses and Midwives, which includes the need for all governments to adopt inter-sectoral actions and find local solutions to challenges as well the need to recognize the important role of youth and succession planning in the health workforce.

There is the need to support the health workforce so that they are able to deliver the Essential intervention health packages in every country, which is essential to the delivery of universal health coverage. This required proper training and continuous professional development, regulations and licensing of the profession, all of which has the potential to contribute to the delivery of a very extensive range of quality health care services and improve the conditions under which nurses and midwives deliver.

Dr. Gakuruh explored the global challenges facing the profession and their relevance to Seychelles. She spoke of the quality of health care highly dependent on nurses and midwives, the attrition of experienced and qualified staff, the country’s high dependency on foreign professional cadres and its related challenges, the recruitment of adequate nurses to meet the demand, the quality of training of health professionals as well as productivity and efficient utilization of existing health workforce. The WR expressed WHO’s commitment to support the country to address these shortfalls. Whilst the Strategic Plan for Nurses and Midwives has been developed and a Job evaluation for Health Care Agency completed with the support of WHO, Dr. Gakuruh explained how the development of the country’s National Health Workforce Account whish has only started will improve available information on its health workforce. Going forward, the country will receive further technical support to conduct a comprehensive Health Labour Market Analysis to determine the annual demand and supply of the health workforce for the next 10 years. Dr. Teniin Gakuruh reiterated that the work that has commenced with the support of WHO is expected to contribute towards improvement in quality of care already identified as a priority for the country.

At the 72nd World Health Assembly (WHA) in May last year, member states designated the year 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, in honor of the 200th year since the birth of Florence Nightingale, a pioneer in nursing. This year’s theme most importantly acknowledges and honors the critical role nurses and midwives play if the world is to achieve universal health coverage and the sustainable development goals. WHO recognizes the critical and active role of nurses and midwives in healthcare delivery. Over the years, their significant contribution has been articulated through several WHO resolutions on health workforce and nursing and midwifery. On World Health Day, April 7th, the WHO Director General will launch the first ever WHO State of the World’s Nursing Report. In addition, during the 73rd WHA, the 2020 WHO Global Forum for Government Chief Nursing and Midwifery officers will meet, providing a platform for consultation to improve the services provided by nurses and midwives. Parallel to that, later in the year, the African Region Health Ministers will also publish the African Report on Nursing and Midwifery.

On a local level, the launching of the International Year of the Nurses and Midwife is only the beginning of a series of activities that will continue throughout the year aimed at strengthening nursing and midwifery and ensuring that nurses and midwives are enabled to work to their full potential.

Source: World Health Organization. Africa