CASSAM CHUTOO, Ex-Regional
Nursing Administrator, Victoria Hospital

To mark the International Nurses Day on this 12th of May, the International Council of Nurses’ theme for 2021 is as follows : Nurses: A Voice to Lead: A Vision for Future Healthcare. Nurses Day is a time to celebrate the efforts for the care and treatment given to patients, families and public at large everyday to improve their health conditions. It is also a day to praise nurses for their relentless contribution to the healthcare system.
Nursing is a noble and a very trusted profession. Yet, when asked, the majority of people cannot adequately describe the complex roles and responsibilities of dispensing care to the sick. Much of the work of this profession goes unnoticed, and yet, nurses continue to be at the forefront of healthcare delivery system across life’s entire continuum.

Nurses Day is a time for reflection, especially when it comes to everything we’ve been through this past year and the challenging conditions nurses have faced in practice. Nurses and midwives should not only be a cog in the wheel but should participate actively in health policy activities rather than merely implementing policies. They can significantly assist policymakers in this endeavour.

In Mauritius, according to Health Statistics Report 2019, there were 3,958 qualified Nurses and Midwives in post at the end of 2019 in the public sector. Some are retiring every year while others are going abroad where the grass is greener. The existing Nursing workforce and retired nurses are called to do overtime to palliate shortage of staff. As a result, they are under stress and may suffer from burnout. Remedial measures need to be promptly taken.

In Mauritius 3.5 nurses and midwives catered for a population of 1000 for the year 2017, according to WHO Global Health workforce Statistics, OECD. As a matter of fact, there was an average of 9 nurses per 1 000 population in OECD countries according to Health at a Glance 2019: OECD Indicators. It is therefore recommended to have at least 6 nurses per 1000 population in our healthcare system to have safe staffing and provide quality care to patients.

Thus, it is recommended for policy makers to act quickly to regularly recruit Trainee Nurses and invest in Nursing Education. A nursing education reform is urgently needed with a paradigm shift to prepare nurses in a more professional way. A university-based education with online courses for the theoretical aspects is urgently needed for a broad-based knowledgeable nursing workforce to lead health care development, nursing practice, research as well as policy development.

I seize the opportunity of this International Day to pay tribute to all our nurses and midwives for their dedication, commitment and hard work to save lives and take care of patients. The staff put their lives at stake against the corona virus.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder of the vital role and contributions of nursing in our healthcare system. I’m especially proud of our unsung heroes for their great courage, immense sacrifices and unwavering efforts as frontliners against COVID-19. Keep Going. Together, we will win this battle.

Sources

International Council of Nurses announces International Nurses Day theme for 2021, (15 October 2020). https://www.icn.ch/news/international-council-nurses
Health Statistics 2019. Report. https://health.govmu.org/Pages/Statistics/Health/Mauritius.
World Health Organization’s Global Health Workforce Statistics, OECD,  https://data.worldbank.org/indicator