….Calls For Improved Welfare Packages, Working Environment
By Abuchi Onwumelu of Fides Media (Publishers of Fides Newspaper)
The Chairperson of National Association of Nigeria Nurses and midwives, NANNM, Anambra State Chapter, Comrade Mrs Edith Onwuka, has called for improved working environment and better welfare packages for nurses in the state, emphasizing that productivity level would naturally improved once a good working condition is guaranteed.
The NANNM Boss who made the call during this year’s workers’ day celebration held at Alex Ekwueme Square Awka stated that they were at the arena to commemorate the day, take stock of what they had done, enumerate and present their challenges to the government and also remind them of the need to provide good working and favourable environment for all the workers in the state.
‘As a NANNM Chairperson in Anambra State, all the registered nurses both in private and public sector in the state are under my care. I organize them, speak for them and fight for them if there is need to fight. We do not play around any sensitive matter.
‘We sit regularly to discuss issues and take a collective and holistic decision when the need arises. For instance, in Anambra State, where the past administration did upward review of Doctors’ salaries to 100% leaving that of nurses and other health workers. That action led to the mass exodus of nurses.
‘We have been shouting, recently state government recruited 138 nurses but as at today I can tell you authoritatively that they are not up to 100 because the salary package is very poor and low.
‘If Government wants to retain nurses in the health sector they should do the needful. Nurses are the heartbeat of the hospital. You cannot do without them. You may find somebody to do other things for you but somebody that’s not trained cannot take care of patients. It is our job. So for us to give the best healthcare services government needs to improve the welfare packages of nurses and other health workers. It helps them to stay long after employment without going anywhere.
On the issue of infiltration of quacks into the profession, the NANNM Chairperson said they were not relenting on that area, stating that they had a joint Committee made up of Nursing Council Association, adding that they usually do quarterly drive.
‘It is not everybody that wears white that is a trained nurse. We are aware that quacks have taken over the profession but we are on it. Very soon we will start to prosecute them. All the bad images we have been having is as a result of this quackery. If you hear people die here and there go and check they were handled by quack nurses.
‘We are begging government to employ nurses and provide a better welfare package for them. So that they would stay in the system without moving. There are many trained nurses in the labour market. Trained nurses are known for better healthcare services, she concluded.
Speaking on May Day Celebration, Comrade Onwuka said that it was celebrated globally on the first of May every year, noting that it was a day set aside for workers all over the world to interface with their employers the government and table their challenges.
‘Here in Anambra State we are happy to have Prof Chukwuma Soludo as our Governor. He listens to our yearnings and aspirations and always ready to feel our pulses. He is gradually addressing those pertinent issues and we can only ask him to sustain the tempo.
‘He has promised to address our challenges. He has started well and we see him as a leader with a Midas touch. We’ll continue to pray for him to succeed, if he succeeds, we will equally succeed. We are happy with him,’ she said.
Comrade Onwuka who doubles as the Chairman of Joint State Public Service Negotiating Council Anambra State, JSPSNC, said that she was elated with the way and manner Governor Soludo was going about their welfare , even as she asked him to expedite action towards ameliorating the plights of workers in the state.
On handling the two positions, as NANNM and JSPSNC Boss, she described it as tasking, demanding and hectic, attributing her success to God Almighty, adding that she had ensured that she gave her all while carrying out the functions required from the both positions.
‘It is not easy couple with my primary assignment. You know I am a nurse. At the state level I try to meet up with the expectations, especially as it concerns workers in the state. I don’t joke with that responsibility. It is really huge for me but I’m not relenting. I’m giving each office all the attentions it deserved.
‘We negotiate with the government and ensure that those things that bring about harmony between the workers and the government are in place. Once there’s a challenge we sit together as a team and then find a lasting solution as fast as possible.
Contributing the State Secretary of NANNM Anambra State, Dr Ikedi Onah urged the government to assist the profession by employing quality and trained nurses, saying that the importance of professional nurses in the health sector cannot be overemphasized.