Members of the Ghana Registered Nurses Association (GRNA) on Tuesday observed the International Nurses Day (IND) in Accra.
The day is celebrated annually around the world on May 12, to mark the contributions nurses make to society.
In January 1974, May 12, was chosen to celebrate the day as it is the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, who is widely considered the founder of modern nursing.
As of 1998, May 8, was designated as annual National Student Nurses’ Day. As of 2003, the Wednesday within National Nurses Week, from May 6 – May 12, is National School Nurse Day.
The 2015 IND was marked in Ghana on the theme: “Nurses and Midwives: A Force for Change; Care Effective, Cost Effective.”
Professor Richard Adanu, the Dean, School of Public Health, University of Ghana, in his keynote address called for harnessing of the collective strength of nurses in current times to make a strong and impressive mark in healthcare delivery.
“The nurses and their leaders of the past years have made their mark and it is now the turn of the 21st century associations and their leaders,” he said.
“This year 2015 marks the end of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and we are now talking about Sustainable Development Goals and the Universal Health Coverage.
“The challenges now is to ensure that the gains of the MDG era are sustained while tackling new challenges in order to ensure that access to health is possible and relatively easy for all people,” he added.
Prof Adanu said: “We talk of Universal Health Coverage without recognising the fact that healthcare is not cheap and needs a deliberate effort to ensure availability of financial support.”
He said the government had recognised this and that was what had led to the establishment of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the different attempts being made to ensure that this scheme works.
Adding that with Universal Health Coverage, Ghanaians must be mindful of the health interventions that had been tested in different trials and shown to work.
He urged all and sundry to support the NHIS to ensure its success.
In relation to the theme for the celebration, the Dean said the practice of nursing and midwifery in Ghana and the world as a whole needs to be both care effective and cost effective.
“Care effective means that as nurses and midwives we must ensure that the type of care that is provided to our clients is the best possible care in our circumstances.
“Our clients must receive interventions that have been proven to work and these interventions should be delivered in a way that preserves the dignity and rights of our clients.
Our delivery of care must be such that our clients are always happy to come back to us when the need arises,” he observed.
Prof Adanu noted that cost effectiveness means getting the maximum possible result for inputs into healthcare.
He urged nurses to constantly upgrade their professional knowledge base as knowledge keeps increasing.
Dr Victor Asare Bampoe, Deputy Minister of Health in a speech read on his behalf, said government appreciates the sacrifices and good works of nurses in the country.
He said government is aware of the challenges facing the health sector; and efforts are being made to address them.
Dr Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service said the country had made giant strides in achieving health targets of the MDGs; especially in the areas of infants and maternal mortalities.
The Director-General observed that the country is guinea worm free, and would soon be declared free of polio.
Mr Kwaku Asante-Krobea, the President of the GRNA, appealed to government to do more to support the weak systems within which they deliver healthcare to the needy.
He called on government to retain the allowances of trainee nurses and midwives who fill many roles that represents the deficit created by the sharp nurse/patient ratio.
Mrs Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo, the General Secretary, GRNA, said the celebration would afford them the opportunity to reflection on their activities over the past year and the way forward.
Nii Okwei Kinka Dowuona IV, Osu Mantse, urged nurses to emulate the shining example of Florence Nightingale.
At the function, the GRNA honoured the best nurse from each region. They were each given a flat screen coloured television set and a citation.