WINDHOEK – In an era of information and communication technologies, it is only reasonable that nurses are well read in order to remain ahead of patients whose’ access to health information is a click away.
Community nurse of ‘The Society for Family Health Namibia’, Ntombizodwa Makurira who is based in the Erongo Region said sometimes “nurses are rude” as a cover up to their ignorance because they are not well read.
“There is a lot of technology, let us be empowered with knowledge to empower our people so that when a patient asks you a question you will not feel irritated. Be well read,” stressed Makurira in an interview with New Era last week.
In celebration of nurses’ week, which was observed worldwide from Sunday, May 6 to Saturday, May 12 New Era spoke to health professionals to share their nursing experiences.
“Half of the time we skip our lunch and we have gone out of our ways to work odd hours and at odd places to attend to our patients,” said Makurira, whose daily work include outreach activities, counselling, quality control and other administrative work.
Milka Mukoroli, a public health specialist and officer in charge for The Society for Family Health Namibia North West offices said nursing remains a noble career.
“You have to be caring and selfless. These traits will make you go the extra mile and help someone who is really in need,” Mukoroli remarked.
Those are the very traits that drew her to nursing 30 years ago. “I am a caring person. Being a caring person is to alleviate pain and suffering,” she added.
Most of her nursing career Mukoroli has worked as a public and community nurse. In fact, only six months of her career was dedicated to bedside nursing, which involves direct patient care.
Nursing is a broad field which includes bedside and non-bedside nursing, which is research, administration and teaching, Mukoroli explained.
As a public health specialist, Mukoroli works with HIV key populations. These are people who are at a higher risk of HIV compared to the general population. The people she works with includes the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) community as well as female sex workers. But these are not the only ones, she emphasised.
She is attached to a programme that aims to prevent the further spread of HIV in line with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 90 90 90 targets.
The UNAIDS targets entail that by 2020, 90 per cent of all people living with HIV will know their status, 90 per cent of all people diagnosed with HIV will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and a further 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression within the same period.
Part of what Mukoroli does includes finding key populations who are HIV positive and linking them to care and by putting those who are negative on HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) (antiretroviral drugs) to reduce their chances of contracting the virus and also to retain those who are HIV positive on treatment in their care.
“I love the impact that the programme is making because it is result driven,” she said.
It is her wish that the target population reached through the programme remain on treatment for their viral load to be suppressed and those who are HIV negative to maintain their negative status.
“This population is really stigmatised,” she said of key populations. Some of them do not have people to care for them, she added.
Mukoroli said she is always pleased when she gets feedback on the impact her services have had on the key populations.
“We are a result-driven organisation. But there are days that we do not reach our targets,” she shared of her bad days at work.
Also sharing her story was Agatha Kuthedze, a regional community health nurse for Khomas and //Kharas regions, also for The Society for Family Health Namibia.
She has been a nurse since 1991, although she is no longer a bedside nurse, her (bedside nursing) skills continue to assist her in her current work.
Also actively involved in the field of HIV, Kuthedze said it is always a joy to hear that lives are impacted through her work.
Kuthedze’s current job includes training health workers who in turn train communities on HIV prevention, care and management.
“Even though effort is made to reach communities, it saddens me when I see that my effort is not strongly reaching the beneficiaries,” she said.
For example if a person is not changing behaviour that puts them at risk of HIV, it makes her feel like she is not doing enough, Kuthedze explained. “I am not in direct contact with patients,” she added.
One proud moment that she always looks back on was 15 years ago, when she helped a woman whose husband died of AIDS.
“You know that they do not indicate on the medical certificate that the person died of AIDS, they normally just write the sickness that killed the person, for example, pneumonia,” explained Kuthedze.
The woman’s husband never disclosed his status to her. It was only three years after he died when she was losing weight drastically that she suspected it must have been HIV.
“Knowing that I am a nurse, the woman shared her fears with me and I encouraged her to get tested. Her results were positive and she was put on treatment. She is doing very well today. I am happy that she opened up to,” she said.