Let me appreciate and acknowledge your presence Honourable Minister of Mineral Resources,Green Technology and Energy Security, International and Regional guests and nurses who came from all walks of life to celebrate Botswana Nurses Day. We also appreciate the presence of the fourth estate and reiterate the relevance of the media both print and radio in spreading the message to the masses of the nurses countrywide who could not make it due to work commitment and Batswana in general.But we are equally not happy and corcerned that the Honourable Minister of health and wellness could not grace the international nurses day which falls under his ministry and the day was moved to August after Minister clearly stated they are being held up Health Ministerial Meeting in Geneva which happens in May yearly, BUT that will not deter us from not celebrating our Nurses Day which comes at a time that NAB/BONU is celebrating our golden jubilee.
This year the Theme is Nurses, A Voice to lead-Health is a human right. We as Nurses we believe the theme is relevant and health is a human right not only to the nurses and also to the communities they serve.
Government of Botswana should see nurses as a partner in the journey towards the new Botswana and we shall under no circumstances condone nurses being left out. We also want to be seen playing a part in the new Botswana as HIS Excellency a baakanya lefatshe. We are proud of our nurses, mostly young people dispersed across the country doing their job diligently and with honour, at times under unbearable conditions. Nurses are even found in the remotest areas of our country rendering the health services to the communities.
Honourable Minister employees (including Nurses) are the key resource an organization/ministry can have. I would like to inform you Honourable Minister that nurses form the bulk of the health workforce i.e. 70% to be precise. Regrettably, employee engagement is sometimes like an afterthought for some if not most employers including those in the private sector. Engage us as nurses at all levels i.e. the defunct tripartite meeting between BONU, DPSM, MOHW and PSBC. AS PART OF A BUSINESS Culture government and private sector need to solicit feedback on the wellbeing of their employees nurses included.
We as BONU strongly feel the time is now to be included in the now revitalized new public service bargaining council where we believe our voice need to be heard and our concerns need to be addressed e.g. sectoral bargaining within the public service bargaining council. Since nurses are an invaluable asset to the ministry of health and wellness and the strategic competitive edge depends on nurses. Our government through ministry of health and wellness should give an undivided attention to the nurse’s needs and wellbeing. Nurses are crying out loud that their wellbeing should be addressed as a matter of urgency. Firstly, we as nurses we would like to acknowledge the strides that MOHW has done to nurses so far e.g. marking allowance of educators, response on the petition about safety of nurses, the newly introduced savingram which states that nurses upgrading up to C1 salary scale should be done at DHMT level. But still there are key areas on our welfare issues that needs to be addressed.
1. Overstaying at C1 salary scale even up to 11years, we are made aware that there have been 79 approved promotion of D4 and D3 which will be completed by end of August 2018.This shows that the DPSM and MOHW you are moving in the right direction and Honourable Minister there is a legitimate expectation after a savingram which was released on 09/08/2018 authored by the Chief Nursing Office that those of 2008 will be soon be promoted. There are more than 400 who are have reached the ceiling of C1 salary scale i.e nurses who got promoted on 2008 and Nurses list is still LONG of those of 2009 and beyond.
2. Poor deployment AND LACK OF REMUNERATION of specialized nurses
Nurses who have specialized at Masters Level are not well remunerated whereas their counterparts in the same ministry of health and wellness are being remunerated at E2 Salary scale. Honourable Minister specialized nurses are registered in the NMCB register and be Cognizant that Nursing midwifery council of Botswana was passed by an act of parliament therefore they deserve to be recognized as their counterparts. We are the longest regulated profession in the country and we deserve to be given the recognition that we deserve.
3. Lack of accommodation for nurses who are the frontline healthcare workers,
4. Lack of further training for nurses.
A competent, well trained and skilled nurses improve health care quality for all Sustainable health care. Capacity building of nurses and midwives enables nurses and midwives to meet the demands of the people they serve. As BONU we advocate for fast tracking in training of nurses to degree and masters level and also abolish the diploma level and commence nursing at Undergraduate level.
Honourable Minister the needs and wellbeing of the nurses as I have alluded earlier needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Our organization which represent the nurses on the welfare have presented to the MOH&W on 04/07/2018 a proposed nursing structure which will go a long way on addressing the meagre wages and progression of the nurses in the field of education, clinical practice and regulation.
BONU is an affiliate of International Council of Nurses. ICN principle is and will be that nurses should be present at the table. ICN believes that there should be no decision made for the nurses without nurses at the table. In our current set up there are no nurses at policy decision making whereas we have decorated and educated nurses in the public service who can be at policy decision making. There is a saying that “if you are not at the table you are in the menu”. Honourable Minister there are many issues bedeviling our profession i.e. Welfare and Professional. What I have alluded is just a tip of an iceberg and we truly believe that with the resuscitation of the tripartite meeting between MOH&W, DPSM, BONU and New revitalized Public Service Bargaining Council sure some of our needs and wellbeing will be addressed. A well looked after nurse is a motivated nurses who normally is a sterling steward to the strategic survival of the health wellbeing of the country and government.
Government through her ministry of health and wellness should consistently cater for employees needs both psychologically and physically thus leading to attraction of best brains to the system for its, growth, survival and innovation. It is a fact and facts are stubborn that a happy nurse is more productive and significantly contribute to the wellbeing of the family, community and the nation s/he serves. Nurses are ministry of health and wellness greatest asset, they are your competitive advantage. This call for our ministry not to proffer lip service and to genuinely and sincerely engage nurses to address their needs. If our ministry want to attract and retain the best nurses who I have no doubt that we are, the mohw needs to offer us encouragement and stimulate them to feel and perform better as an integral part of the ministry. This will contribute to achievement for the goals and mission of the ministry.
Honourable Minister we have a nursing now initiative which is a global campaign run in collaboration by international council of nurses(ICN),THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION(WHO)AND THE Burdett Trust Foundation. The purpose of Nursing now initiative is to improve health globally by maximizing the contribution that nurses can make towards achieving Universal Health coverage, thereby ensuring that everyone everywhere has access to health and health care. Nursing Now was launched in London in February 2018 by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge who is also its patron. The Nursing Now has a board with the Co-Chair, who hails from Botswana. Our own decorated Nurse, A Christian Remain awarding winning, our own Professor Sheila Tlou.The initiative highlights the unique features of nursing, that make it well equipped to have an even more influential role in tackling health challenges of the 21st century. The campaign will raise the status and profile of nursing through demonstrating what nurses can achieve. Nurses are often not provided with the required education,support,and not given the opportunity to practice according to the level of preparation, knowledge and skills and that Honourable Minister nurses need to be given the necessary support to ensure that come 2021, nursing now initiative has achieved its intended goals.
Nursing Now initiative will be launched this evening at BaIsago convention during the commemoration of NAB/BONU Golden jubilee.today marks a great day as Nurses Association of Botswana/BONU Will be turning 50 years of existence and having achieved a lot.
Director of ceremonies it is paramount that as Botswana Nurses Union we acknowledge,appreciate and thank the our main sponsor Barclays Bank Botswana for ensuring that this event of such magnitude becomes a success.Barclays bank Botswana is one of our partners at BONU and once again thank you BBB and lekamoso bagaetsho.
Director of ceremonies I would like to end on the note that to our government of Botswana and NURSES at large John 13 vs 34”I give you new commandment, That you love one another,as I have loved you”. To our government "if you love the nurses they will also love you".
*RAHUBE is the President of Botswana Nurses Union (BONU). He was speaking during commemoration of Botswana Nurses Day 2018 last week.