Zambia Union of Nurses Organisation (ZUNO) President, Mrs Tisa Chiponda, has reiterated the need for more investment in nursing as the country commemorates International Nurses Day amidst the fight against COVID 19.
Mrs Chiponda said government must invest in the nursing workforce as nurses make a central contribution to national and global targets related to a range of health priorities, including Universal Health Coverage adding that investment should adequately cover nursing education, recruitment and retention.
She further commended nurses for their effort in the fight against COVID 19, the disease that has so far caused an unprecedented global health crisis rendering nurses who are at the forefront of patient care delivery vulnerable to getting infected in the process.
“I do understand this is not yet over but for your commitment and manner you have arisen to the challenge is commendable. It is also testimony that nurses are a voice to lead and are nursing the world to health. ” she said
Mrs Chiponda said this in her address delivered on the occasion of the 2020 International Nurses Day virtual commemoration via Zoom with the Ministry of Health, General Nursing Council of Zambia and some nurses representing all the ten provinces of Zambia.
She noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaration of the year 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife should be regarded as an opportunity to make a step change in how nursing is regarded and advocate for the hard investment in nursing that we want to see.
She stated the image of nursing is being affected by several factors that include; nursing shortage, unfavourable working conditions, and low salaries, which need to be urgently addressed.
This year’s International Nurses Day commemoration is under the theme Nurses: A Voice To Lead Nursing The World To Health as the global nursing community also celebrate the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale whose nursing skills intersected with a broader set of interests in public health, advancement of medicine, hygiene, epidemiology, statistics and military health.
The virtual commemoration in Zambia was unusual. IND celebrations in Zambia are usually characterized by huge gatherings and celebrations across the country. The virtual commemoration had been necessitated by COVID 19 a disease caused by the coronavirus. Authorities have banned public gatherings as a public health measure in an effort to reduce or possibly stop the spread of COVID 19.
The month of May has for many years been and continues to be a special month for Nurses and Midwives worldwide. As you may be aware the World Health Assembly saw it fit to have the year 2020 set apart as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. This declaration presents as an opportunity for the world to join us in celebrating the work that we do as well as an opportunity to raise awareness about the status of nursing and midwifery. It is also an opportunity to highlight the challenging conditions we often face on a daily basis and the themes to commemorate both days reflect this.
The International Day of the Midwife 2020 theme is Midwives with women: celebrate, demonstrate, mobilise, unite-our time is NOW! While the International Nurses’ Day theme is Nurses: A Voice To Lead Nursing The World To Health.
The COVID-19 disease caused by the new Coronavirus has not spared any health system on earth forcing us to postpone the official commemoration of these important days. Other countries have opted to mark these important days without large gatherings or in-person events for the first time.
However, COVID-19 has at the same time put a brighter spotlight on our professions revealing the irreplaceable work that we do.
In an effort to alleviate pain and bring healing, we had found ourselves risking our lives and at times contracting the very disease we were trying to protect our patients from. Although some people outside our professions witnessed this for the first time and it made headlines, for us it is nothing new. We face very real personal risks every day we report for work. But this does not in any way erode the pride we have for our professions because we fully understand that our role is that of service to humanity. I urge you all to be confident in protecting yourselves at the same time providing the best care to your patients.
We hope that going forward, as the nation and the entire world we will come up with health goals, everyone will remember that nurses and midwives are fundamental in ensuring improved health responses. This is why ZUNO continues to demand for an enabling environment to ensure nurses and midwives deliver quality health care. It is the reason we maintain that government must invest in all areas of nursing and midwifery workforce development if any progress is to be achieved.
We are also maintaining our stance that government continue supporting us during this pandemic ensuring that the Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) reach every nurse and midwife.
On behalf of the Zambia Union of Nurses Organisation (ZUNO), I urge you to stay committed in ensuring that quality health services are accessible to the people we serve. Furthermore let us join hands as we celebrate the role we play in the nation’s health system at all levels not just today but always.
Tisa M. Chiponda,
The Zambia Union of Nurses Organisation (ZUNO) General Secretary Mr. Fray Michelo has urged Government through the Ministry of Health to ensure that all nurses and midwives are adequately prepared to handle patients with COVID 19, as members of the health team.
Mr. Michelo said that as the country prepares to support people who may be affected by the virus, there is also strong need to support and protect the staff caring for them.
“We would not want to witness what has happened in some countries where nurses are over-stressed and their physical and psychological wellbeing compromised”, he said
He added the Ministry of Health should ensure that there is availability of personal protective equipment for nurses and midwives that will be working in close contact with infected patients.
Mr. Michelo noted with sadness that the country has recorded its first two confirmed cases of COVID 19, but remains positive that the country will manage, considering the fact that Government has employed a multi-sectoral approach to handling the novel infection believed to be caused by the coronavirus.
He was further pleased that Government has announced that it will also be intensifying screening, restricting public gatherings and employing the social distancing strategy, as a way of curbing easy spread of the communicable diseases.
He however expressed concern about the country’s boarders that remain open. “Although restriction has been imposed on all foreign travel, we feel it would be best to keep the infection at bay as much as possible by closing borders with countries that considered high risk” he added.
Zambia Union of Nurses Organisation General Secretary Mr. Fray Michelo has pressed authorities to put the protection and security of Nurses and Midwives as a priority and heighten security in health facilities after reported attacks on Nurses and Midwives by the members of the community.
The attacks have come in the wake of riots against coordinated gas attacks that have triggered irrational mob attacks on suspects.
The most recent attack was on a nurse in Luwingu district who was stabbed as he attempted to rescue an old woman from mob that accused her of harboring a person believed to be involved in the gassing of people in the area. The live saver ended up fighting for his life in Intensive Care Unit at Kasama General Hospital where he is admitted.
“ZUNO is extremely troubled by this incident.” He said, adding that Nurses and Midwives who are tirelessly working under difficult conditions saving lives have been put on the negative spotlight as rumors continue to spread that they are aiding those involved in the vice.
“These men and women serving the country 24 hours a day risking their lives in an effort to save members of the community are now being attacked by the very people they are trying to save.” Mr. Michelo further stated.
He further urged the Ministry of Health and its stakeholders to consider suspending any community activities outside the health facilities, likely to make Nurses and Midwives targets of attacks until the situation normalizes and sufficient community engagement is done.
Mr. Michelo reaffirmed ZUNO’s commitment and resolve to protect the well-being of our members warning that if such attacks continue, ZUNO will be left with no choice but advise its members to leave the duty stations as they cannot work effectively when their lives are under threat.
ZUNO successfully held its 3rd Quadrennial Conference and 57th National Assembly on 12 and 13 December 2019 at Andrews Motel in Lusaka where an initial nine (09) member National Executive Committee (NEC) was ushered into office to serve for four (04) years.Two (02) National Trustees will be appointed by the new NEC in accordance with the ZUNO Constitution thereby forming a full eleven member NEC.
Minister of Labour and Social Security Hon. Joyce Simukoko graced the event that was held under the theme Nurses and Midwives: A Voice to Lead through Quality Healthcare.
In addressing over 200 delegates who were in attendance from across Zambia, the minister stated that the nursing and midwifery profession needs a trade union leadership that is vibrant, selfless and innovative in order to help address the challenges in the health sector.
She commended ZUNO for the role it continues to play in the striving to improve members’ welfare and implored ZUNO to intensify worker education activities stating that not all members understand the recognition and collective agreements signed between ZUNO and employers.
The minister further applauded ZUNO for adhering to the provisions enshrined in the Industrial and Labour Relations Act Cap 269 of the laws of Zambia, and observing the provisions of the ZUNO Constitution.
Speaking earlier Zambia Congress of Trade Unions Deputy Secretary General, Mr Elaston Njovu pledged continued support to the union, and urged ZUNO to continue working closely with relevant stakeholders in pursuit of its mandate.
And ZUNO President Mrs Tisa Chiponda noted that enhancing human development comes from having a healthy population adding that there is a strong link between health and socio-economic progress.
ZUNO NEC 2020- 2023
During the two day conference Mrs. Tisa Chiponda was re-elected as ZUNO President, a position which she held for over a year after taking over from Mr Liseli Sitali.
Other elected National Executive Council Members were;
Mr. Golden Mtonga-Vice President Professional Affairs (Formerly Eastern Province Chairperson)
Mr Martin Muloongo-Vice President Labour Affairs (Formerly Deputy General Secretary Operations & Organisation)
Mr. Fray Michelo- General Secretary (retained position),
Mr. Alfred Mulenga -Deputy General Secretary Operations & Organisation (From Northern Province)
Mr. Ernest Mumba- General Secretary for Finance and Administration (formerly Copperbelt Province Chairperson)
Ms Grace Mwandila- National Chairperson Gender Affairs- (from Lusaka Trust hospital) National Trustees Mrs Judith Kaingu (retained position) and Mr Gibson Kabombo (formerly Southern Province Chairperson).