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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Be Prudent: An Open Letter to Nigerian Nurses in the Nick of the Coronavirus Pandemic - Nr Ikechukwu Ogbu

 Nr Ikechukwu Ogbu
Dearest Colleagues!

In the nick of this Coronavirus pandemic which has inadvertently turned into pandemonium in Nigeria, I feel the compulsion to first, write to my colleagues who toil and moil at every tick-tock of the clock to salvage the course of human kind. Dr. Tedro, DG of the World Health Organization gave a note of appreciation and succinctly, said, “Today, I want to send a personal and sincere ‘thank you’ note to all health workers in the world especially nurses and midwives. You do a heroic job… We know you are stretched to your limit…”  In the same vein, I say thank you.

Whether Mr. Buhari or Dr. Osagie appreciates us should never be our source of motivation. I often say that if God is love and love is God, nurses are demi-gods because we cannot nurse without first of all, loving. I dare say, nurses are seraphs!

HOWEVER,

Be prudent! Be careful! Use your sixth sense! There is no vacation or “stay at home” for us because our home is the hospital, the most dreaded place in times like this. We are the first point of intimate contact in any hospital in the world and that is why we are as vulnerable as the Nigerian soldier treading the Sambisa forest with “den” gun.

More so, our five thousand naira risk allowance which is a slap in the integrity of labour and the greatest ingratitude of the leadership of a people is neither enough to purchase personal protective articles nor treat oneself if eventually exposed to danger. Given the intimidating number of patients and medical needs as well as the scope of our job, our work is even more tasking than any other department in the hospital.

While our values are mammoth and circulate with the speed of light, our reward comes like the movement of a tortoise and hence, many of us are flying to Europe and America where these values are marched with commensurate reward and good human treatment.

We are still mourning for Nurse Justina Ejelonu, the pregnant nurse who sacrificed her life for the patients plagued with the Ebolavirus Disease after few months of marriage. This is a case study on Occupational Hazard that formed an article I co-authored with Arungwa T.O. of the IELTS expertise.

We mourn one of the heroes of Nursing, Nurse Jutina Ejelonu because of how the cold hands of history have descended on her. She was our colleague; we know her and understand the height of passion she lived her career and how the society as well as the government has rubbished her impact in the dustbin of history.

This is why we must not fall sick while attending to the sick. Whatever legitimate thing you can do to stay strong, please do! Should you exit like the likes Ejelonu and several others in the North, your hospital will not shut down for a second to observe your demise. This is not because you do not have value, but because you have so much value in a country that has no appreciation for that. Well, let me not be distracted from my letter.

This is never to discourage us, but to caution us; to remind us that we have to be safe before saving others. This is the fundamental philosophy of nursing which calls to mind that a nurse is a human being who enjoys biological, social, economic, physical etc variables. 

Of no mean importance are the Universal Precautions. We are often encouraged to improvise, but dearest colleagues, there is no such thing as improvision at this time. In fact, do not work in any hospital that does not have standard facilities. Do not risk your single life for a few in the detriment of thousands. This might be a clarion call for appropriate quarters to look into the working condition of health workers.

Dearest nurses, always remember your own family before any family. Do not forget yourself in the service of humanity. Humanity cannot love you and your works more than your family who “sacrificed” you to serve the human kind just like your model, Florence Nightingale.

In fact, if you have not nursed any of them, you have not started the ideal nursing job, for they are the first people to sow the seed of values in your life. Eggs come from a hen just like a hen comes out from an egg. This is a simple philosophy of life that is never taught in school, the same way nobody teaches you how to understand the message in the silence of your patient and the emptiness in his or her noise.

While I hope that the pandemic may not cause much fatality as the financial fatality that will soon arise should there be no immediate medical breakthrough, I therefore, want to encourage us to bear in mind few things.

Many countries have shut down public gatherings. There is no random movement in the UK, US and other foreign countries where we often gain revenues. The price of oil will drop following this. Exchange rate will spike. The FG has even banned travels to UK, US, Italy, German etc after 5 new cases who have history of travels to these countries have been discovered. Border will soon be closed (if it has not been closed already).

The Government might return to a serious recession where salaries might not come as usual. Therefore, maybe diligent spending can minimize the rate of an imminent frustration.

In all, BE PRUDENT in practise!
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