Community Health Nurses embark on indefinite strike

Health Community Health Nurses embark on indefinite strike

Accra, May 31, GNA - The Community Health Nurses Association Ghana (COHNAG), has embarked on an indefinite strike over unfair treatment from the Nurses and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Ms Esther F. Bamfo, COHNAG President, recounted that since last year, the NMC decided to change their traditional name 'Community Health Nurses (CHNs)' to 'Nurse Assistants' and has been issuing certificates in that regard.

She said the Association was never invited by the NMC to discuss the decision but informed members that it was empowered by the Health Regulatory Bodies Act (Act 875).

'However, it is interesting to note that there is nowhere in the said Act which indicates that CHNs are called Nurse Assistants and as such it is disheartening for the Council to issue certificates to members as Nurse Assistants after completing their training successfully,' Ms Bamfo said at a news conference in Accra.

'Furthermore, the Health Training Institutions Secretariat, which is the agency of the Ministry of Health (MoH), overseeing the various training schools, continue to train students in Community Health Nursing and therefore, we do not understand why members should be awarded a certificate as Nurse Assistants,' she added.

Ms Bamfo said CHNs are individuals who were given two years training in Community Heath Nursing after completing senior high school education to work at the community level to champion health promotion and prevention.

She noted that through the efforts of CHNs, healthcare delivery has been made accessible to deprived areas of the country; hence, contributing towards reducing maternal and infant mortality.

'The name 'Community Health Nurse', has been the household name so far as preventive healthcare in Ghana is concerned, and we still cannot understand why it should be taken from the people trained in Community Health Nursing,' she added.

She said it is sad to note that only a few CHNs after participating in the access course organised by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology were granted the opportunity to participate in the Diploma in Community Health Nursing Programme facilitated by the MoH and the Ghana Health Service.

She observed that even those who were fortunate to participate in the Midwifery Programmes instituted by the MoH were awarded ordinary certificates instead of a Diploma in Midwifery.

Ms Bamfo said: 'We petitioned the Minister of Health, the GHS Director-General and the Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services at the MoH on several occasions about the decision of the NMC and the general continuous disregard for the Community Health Nurses; but nothing significantly was done about the issues.'

'Although we are a strong force for primary health care delivery and serving in very remote areas where other health care professionals refuse postings, we are the least respected. Are we equally not contributing so much to the health care system in Ghana?' she asked.

'We wish to state that we do not want to be called Nurse Assistants, and until our grievances are addressed accordingly by the Minister of Health and the major stakeholders of health, we shall not continue to render our services to various communities in the country,' Ms Bamfo said.

'In fact we have suffered discrimination, unfairness and frustrations for far too long and we will not relent on our decision to lay down our tools indefinitely until our needs are met,' she added.