Elizabeth Sele Mulbah, Former Vice-Chair and Commissioner at the Governance Commission, has stressed the need for a practical health culture that will appeal to the consciences of all Liberians and not health workers and professionals alone.
Madam Mulbah, a retired Nurse, made the remark when she served as a keynote speaker at the launch of the Liberia Nurses and Midwives Revised Policy program held in Monrovia. The event, held under the theme, “Unlocking the Potential of Nurses and Midwives in Liberia”, brought together nurses, midwives as well as medical doctors.
“If we must connect the power of evidence-based policy to achieve lasting change for everyone to have the chance to live as healthy a life as possible, we need public policy that will help to maximize access to quality and affordable health care, and that will create communities that are healthier and more inclusive in providing everyone with the opportunity to thrive,” said Madam Mulbah.
She said inasmuch as there have been tireless efforts provided by nurses and midwives in society more than doctors, they are still underpaid by their paymasters.
“It is possible to run a clinic or hospital without doctors but definitely not without nurses and midwives. Where doctors and nurses work together, the nurse is with the patient much longer than the doctor. Yet nurses are paid far less, despite their workload and long hours of service,” she said.
Madam Mulbah noted that even though over ten nurses can be paid from one doctor’s salary, they (nurses) pay the same price for basic commodities and the same fees for children in schools as doctors.
“One market day, a woman in Zorzor once charged me twice the price for a commodity I wanted to buy. She did not know that I overheard the price she had just offered a non-nurse,” she said, recounting her experience.
She called on the Ministry of Health (MoH) and all employers to ensure that nurses and midwives in their employ carry current license. “Nurses and midwives, we need to set up a peer review committee to handle any and all discrepancies among us. Serve as a sounding board and bring colleagues to book whenever necessary.”
The former Vice-Chair of the Governance Commission added that if we are to benefit from continuing education, needs assessment is a must. Sending a nurse or midwife to a skills training workshop when his or her need is attitudinal change, becomes a waste of time and money.
“Achieving health for all will depend on sufficient numbers of well-trained and educated, regulated and well-supported nurses and midwives, who receive pay and recognition commensurate with the services and quality of care that they provide,” she said.
She noted that in order to have well equipped nurses and midwives, the government and partners must support nurses and midwives. The report of the UN High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth concluded that investments in education and job creation in the health and social sectors result in a triple return of improved health outcomes, global health security, and inclusive economic growth.
“We should come together to present a comprehensive budget to the government through the MOH each year, and only then would the left hand knows what the right hand is doing or receiving to assist each other in our training areas because we are a team, we can learn from each other and our patients will be better off.”
She said only doctors can be appointed as County Health Directors. I wonder why? Please in the name of God, open this and all managerial positions to nurses and midwives as well as Pharmacists, and recruit per merit based on a clear set criteria/qualifications.
The keynote speaker further said that nurses and midwives in the employ of the MoH can carry current license. “Nurses and midwives, we need to set up a peer review committee to handle any and all discrepancies among us. Serve as a sounding board and bring colleagues to book whenever necessary. If we are to benefit from continuing education, needs assessment is a must. Sending a nurse or midwife to a skills training workshop when his or her need is attitudinal change, becomes a waste of time and money.”
She urged nurses and midwives to remain composed as the current situation will not remain the same always.