Museveni urges health workers to demystify lies, propaganda on emerging diseases

Kampala: President Museveni has urged nurses and midwives to assist in information dissemination on the risks of epidemics and pandemics.

The President made the remarks in a speech read for him by Vice President Jessica Alupo on Thursday afternoon, as delegates, leaders’ representatives of different Nursing and midwifery institutions in Uganda gathered in Kampala, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council (UNMC), a body enacted by an Act of Parliament in 1996.

The day was commemorated under the theme: “Celebrating 100 years of Uganda Nurses and midwives Regulation, Past, Present, Future”.

The council which is the first health professional regulatory body in Uganda is mandated with protecting the public from unsafe nursing and midwifery practices and, ensuring the quality of their services, among others. A line from the nurses anthem re-affirms to their duties; “Chosen by God to serve”

President Museveni commended the Nurses and Midwives for the 100 year milestone, calling this a highlight of the dedicated service that the entire medical fraternity has been offering. The President said that their effort in making health care accessible and of quality is commendable with great performance over the years.

According to statistics, there are 69,800 Nurses and 30,364 Midwives registered to practice with 1,129 Maternity and Nursing homes/clinics registered and licensed to offer nursing and maternity services.

President Museveni also thanked Ministry of Health for its oversight role, and the particular symbiotic relationship of great progress showed over the years, working together through “raising our banner in the region and on the international scene in regard to the standard of Nursing and Midwifery”, the President said.

According to the President, Uganda Nurses and Midwives are desired in many countries and have offered excellent service over the globe.

The President said that while there was insecurity and in the past limited resource envelop, hindering smooth health service delivery, nurses have been displaying dedication and the will to save life. “We saw you working tooth and nail, risking your lives to redeem the lives of your brothers and sisters during the tough period of the second Covid-19 wave and you are doing so again now with the recent Ebola outbreak because the role you play puts you at stake as frontline workers, risking your lives on a daily basis”, he said.

He cautioned them on absenteeism, tracking and dealing with fraudsters in the profession and the few that neglect patients.

On their contribution to the sector, the President gave critical country indicators saying;
•60% of pregnant women today are able to attain the requisite antenatal care visits from 48% in 2011)
•73% of child births are attended to by skilled health professionals
•Reduced maternal mortality ratio at 336 from 438/100,000 in 2011 and 524/100,000 in 2000
•Reduced infant mortality rate at 43/1,000 from 54/1000 live births in 2011
•Reduced under five mortality at 64 from 90/1000 live births in 2011
•Increased patient satisfaction in health facilities at 79%.

With these, the President said, Uganda’s hope of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals come 2030 has increased”.

Dr. Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health said the event was a key milestone in the Ministry because nurses and midwives are the biggest backbone of the health sector across the entire health care from communities to the facilities.

“We have opened up the practice up to the highest levels” adding that in order to fill existing gaps, the Ministry-in conjunction with Public service, health has expanded and put positions for new and upcoming specialties. “Therefore, for all competently trained nurses and midwives, there will be a position”. She called for discipline in the profession and practice urging them to avoid absenteeism, develop positive attitudes so that the enhanced salaries can be seen in their work.

The Minister challenged them to take note of the issue of drug theft, a vice she said, had been noted among health workers. “If we are to address the quality of health care, we must address the vices of drug theft”.

The Registrar of the council-Christine Nimwesiga commended her counterparts for licensing the different clinics and committed to continous professional development of the organisation.

She recounted the journey of the institution, highlighting different roles, including registration, regulation, ensuring of professional knowledge, licensing, setting standards. She said there are “123 nursing schools, with nurses and midwifery in different practices with different knowledge, scope and profession” all contributing to the health sector in Uganda.

Guests at the function included representatives from Kenya, Lesotho, Eswatini, MPs, Presidents of the nursing associations, representatives of nursing institutions, district health officers and the Deputy RDC Mukono.

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