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May 13, 2015

Why We Think Nurses Matter



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Yesterday PharmAccess Group joined the rest of the world in celebrating the International Nurses Day. 12 May has been set aside as a day to commemorate and honor the contributions of nursing practitioners to society. The Nurses' Day coincide with the birthday of Florence Nightingale, a woman considered the pioneer of nursing as we know it today. The International Council of Nurses' theme for this year's commemoration is "Nurses: A Force for Change: Care Effective, Cost Effective".

This resonates with our work in advancing the accessibility of quality basic healthcare. For PharmAccess, the role of nurses is uniquely precious as they are usually at the frontline of healthcare delivery and sometimes the only source of basic healthcare, particularly in rural Africa. The African continent in general has been facing a shortage of healthcare professionals leaving huge populations on the continent vulnerable to wide ranging infections, including preventable and treatable illnesses. According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, there is a shortage of almost 4.3 million nurses, physicians and other health human resources across the globe. Sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to be in need of up to 140% scaling up of healthcare workforce in order to attain goal 1 & 6 of the Millennium Development Goals.

Beyond the huge figures, the role of nurses is increasingly become crucial as they have to deal with an exponential number of patients on a day to day basis. In Nigeria, one of the five countries we work in, there is an average of 1.6 nurses per 1000 people, a figure below the minimum 2.3. On the patients' side, long waiting hours as well as travelling distance and costs to get primary care had been one of the challenges. To abate some of these challenges PharmAccess set up additional health post and introduced nurse-led health posts which led to increased access to and utilization of primary healthcare services.

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