Latest nursing updates reaching us has it that UGONSA, popularly known as the Graduate Nurses Association of Nigeria, GNAN, welcomes your appointment, confirmation and successful swearing-in as the Honourable Minister of Health by the Buhari led regime.
Our belief is that your appointment is not an accidental discharge but a cumulative of your impeccable antecedents that made the regime believe that you have the capacity and the competence to deliver and salvage the health sector at this auspicious moment in our history when we are poised to get it right, and most importantly the design of providence that has provided you as a veritable tool for bringing the clamoured positive changes to our health system. We pray God who has given you this position to also give you an uncommon wisdom, eternal strength and courage to make indelible positive landmarks for the health sector of this great nation.
Sir, this association pledges its unalloyed support to the success of your tenure as the honourable Minister of health. However, we solicit that you consolidate on the efforts made by the past regime to enthrone sanity and order in the sector which has become charged and seemly turbulent on account of obvious inequity, injustice and unfairness. Since governance is a continuum, we therefore urge that the elemental foundation for lasting peace, team spirit and orderliness in the health sector laid by the previous regimes should be vigorously built upon to consolidate on the apparent calm environment and nurture to life the withered root of peace, harmony and orderliness in the health sector.
All professions and professionals group in the health sector have their own share of the leeching injustice, inequity and unfairness and therefore cry for salvage on perceived areas of anomaly, incongruity or shortchange.
Sir, for this noble association, it is the exclusion from the Internship Schemes and deliberate under-placement of graduates of Bachelor of Nursing Science (B.Nsc) degree as well as the withdrawal of teaching allowance from Nurses and Midwives below the grade of CONHESS 09 that we consider grave injustice and inequity of monumental proportions to the nursing profession.
We have frowned and still strongly frown at the deliberate exclusion of graduates of B.NSc from the internship schemes of the health sector despite the fact that it is approved by the National University Commission (NUC) as a compulsory aspect of their training curriculum as it is with the baccalaureate training of other healthcare professions that participate in the schemes. Till date, the university graduates of nursing are the only university graduates among the core health professionals that do not participate in internship training, which sole design is to blend theoretical learning with comprehensive clinical expertise, for enhanced and qualitative care delivery to patients.
Sir, the fact that nurses stay closer to and monitor patients more closely round-the-clock is indicative that they need the internship training more than any other member of the healthcare team. Those that are entrusted with people’s lives must be adequately trained and competent to discharge their responsibilities efficiently and effectively. Their deliberate exclusion therefore is worrisome and probably stands that we are deliberately incubating our healthcare system at a level of underperformance possibly to allow medical tourism fester. It is a pity that some people can choose to play politics with the lives of Nigerians by deliberately robbing the profession that nurses sick and dying patients back to life the opportunity to equip its graduates with comprehensive clinical expertise over spurious issues, especially the warped argument that nurses are not worth the financial entitlements accruable from internship training. Had there been no financial entitlement that comes with internship training, we have no reservation, sir, that the graduates of the B.NSc would have been the first and only group to have been mobilized for the scheme!
We equally object strongly the aberrant and deliberate under-placement of the graduates of B.Nsc on CONHESS 07 post-NYSC where as their counterparts in other health professions are placed on at least CONHESS 09 in the Civil Service post-NYSC despite all having similar entry qualification and common career duration in the University. Sir, we have challenged the ‘powers-that-be’ in the health sector, including those that once occupied your honourable office to expound the rationale for such aberration but none has till date adduced any scintilla of reason for such. It still boils down to our belief that our predicament stemmed from those in authority deliberately but cowardly yielding to satisfying the spurious and inordinate ego-demands of ‘the bulldozers’ that have primordial hatred for the nursing profession; those that do not want anything that can boost the image and status quo of the profession to accrue to it; those that do not mind killing Nigerians in millions rather than see members of the nursing profession receive praise, accolades or commensurate reward of any sort for the good work they do. If the authority thinks our hypothesis is wrong then it should furnish us with the rationale for exclusion of the graduates of B.Nsc from the internship training and their aberrant under-placement on CONHESS 07 against CONHESS 09 that other core healthcare professionals are placed on post-NYSC, despite all having similar entry requirements and course duration in the university. On the alternative, their NUC approved internship training should be expressly implemented and their deliberate under-placement post-NYSC quickly rectified to perpetually nullify our hypothesis and prove us wrong.
We also consider as ridiculous but highly provocative, the irrational withdrawal of teaching allowance from Nurses and Midwives below the grade of CONHESS 09 without any justification notwithstanding the glaring and uncontestable fact that Nurses and Midwives, irrespective of grade and cadre, are involved in client teaching and advocacy. Students Nurses and Midwives, and others including interns, also get a lot of tutelage from nurses in the clinical setting. It is therefore, uncalled for and repugnant to the law of equity and fairness to have imagined the suspension of the teaching allowance let alone brazenly implementing it.
Despite the circular Ref no.C2262/T/110 dated 29th July, 2015 directing Chief Medical Directors (CMDs)/Medical Directors (MDs) of Federal Tertiary Health Institutions to commence with immediate effect the payment of teaching allowance in line with extant circular from National Salaries, income and wages commission(NSIWC) Ref no. SWC/S/04/S.176/T/73 dated 4th July, 2014 which restored the wrongly withdrawn teaching allowance to Nurses and Midwives below the grade level of CONHESS 09, the continued disregard of the directive of the circulars by the CMDs/MDs shows that you have a lot of impunity to contend with in order to truly sanitize the system.
If the blowing wind of positive change must have any effect on our healthcare delivery system, you must make the CMDs/MDs to have respect for the public service rules and schemes of service of the federation as many of them have formulated their own rules and operate with impunity to the extent that they have no regard for circulars emanating from your honourable office, the NSIWC and other higher offices as evidenced by their confine of the aforementioned circulars to waste bins.
Albeit, we were palliated, sir, by the reassuring speech of the immediate past State Minister for Health, Engr.Fidelis Nwankwo during the 2015 Nurses week in Abuja where he ventilated that Nurses’ internship and Proper Placement of Graduates of B.Nsc may likely commence by June, 2015 (as published by Daily Trust Newspaper of 13th May, 2015). The absence of a Minister since June till your swearing-in on November 11, 2015, in our imagination, might be responsible for its non-implementation. Since the speech of the former Minister seemingly indicates that effort was then at its terminal to resolve and abolish the twin deliberate injustices of exclusion from internship schemes and aberrant under-placement of Graduates of B.NSc, we passionately and respectfully implore you, sir, to expedite action on the release of their enabling circulars.
With utmost sense of humility and respect, members of this association passionately pray that you:
. Kindly consolidate and build on the already laid down fragile route by the past regime, for restoration of equity, fairness and justice to the members of the nursing profession in particular, and the health care sector in general.
. See to the immediate release of a circular implementing the NUC approved mandatory internship training and proper placement of the B.NSc graduates at par with the University Graduates of other healthcare professions that they share similar entry requirement and programme duration in the University with.
. Direct the immediate compliance of CMDs/MDs with the order of the circulars that restored the payment of teaching allowance to the affected Nurses and Midwives (those on CONHESS 06, 07 and 08 in the Civil Service) and as well enforce the urgent payment, in arrears, of all the due earnings that would have accrued to them from the teaching allowance, starting from July 2014, when the circular that restored it was released by NWSIC but unfortunately ignored by the CMDs/MDs.
. That you make ‘equity and transparency’ the watchword and the doing word of your administration to achieve lasting peace, harmony and unhindered and sustainable development in the health system of this our great country.
Once again, we pledge our unalloyed support and allegiance to your tenureship and pray God to grant you uncommon wisdom, understanding and courage to pilot, peacefully, the affairs of the always boiling health sector and achieve uncommon, credible, indelible and positive landmarks that will make Nigerians echo-Yes there was indeed a positive CHANGE in our health sector-at the end of your tenure.
Please accept the highest regards of members of this association!
Chief (Hon) S.E.O. Egwuenu (National President)
Nurse G.I. Nshi (National Secretary)
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