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Nurses are essential workers, the police must respect all essential workers

09 Jan 2021 at 09:16hrs | Views
At around ten thousand strong, nurses are the backbone of the Zimbabwe healthcare industry, as well as its largest profession. Consistently ranked the most trusted profession in The world year after year, nurses play an increasingly large role not just in providing care but in the administrative side of healthcare. In this time of COVID world over a nurse becomes a hero who is sacrificing her own life to save others. The bravery nurses display in their jobs is extraordinary.

Believe it or not, nurses have been around for nearly two millennia, albeit serving in a much different capacity than they do today. Typically, nurses of long ago lived and worked in convents and early church-run hospitals, providing care that was primitive at best, often in squalid conditions. That all began to change in the 1800s, as prominent figures like Florence Nightingale began to lobby for better conditions and training. Having seen firsthand during the Crimean War that the majority of those who died did so not from wounds sustained in battle but from infections stemming from squalid conditions, Nightingale knew advancing the nursing profession was critical to improving healthcare.

However, as revolutionary as her work and subsequent advocacy was - she spoke on the issue to anyone who would listen, taking her message as high as the Queen of England - it would still be another 100 years or so before nursing came to resemble the profession we know today. It is therefore befitting that nurses are elevated to essential and Nurses have long enjoyed the support of the general public. Professional respect within the medical community, on the other hand, was hard-won through years of lobbying, organizing, and most importantly, advancing the profession academically.

To understand why nurses are so important in the fight against COVID 19 today, we need to look at what they do, from the relationships they foster with patients to the ways in which they work with other practitioners.

As the nation pulls up its sleeves to fight the pandemic we honor our National essential workers, who continue to support and sustain all of us through this pandemic. We also renew our call to fight for policies like emergency paid sick time that strengthen our communities and working families.

Every year but especially in 2020, we recognize the many contributions and sacrifices of our country's heroes - people who work in our grocery stores, hospitals, warehouses, restaurants, school programs and childcare centers. These are the people most deeply impacted by COVID-19, and the ones leading our region's recovery. Yet many essential workers are ineligible to receive basic protections like adequate paid sick time.

Zimbabwe needs to see to it that medical workers are honoured at a scaled as the nation enters a new phase. As the number of Covid-19 cases starts to slowly creep up again, the nation endorses plans to impose restrictions and a total lockdown.

Think back to a recent doctor's appointment. After you checked in at the front desk, chances are a nurse was the first person you saw. Between asking about your health and checking your vitals, he or she probably made what seemed like small talk. That small talk, however, was not just to put you at ease or avoid awkward silence; skilled nurses know that taking the time to get to know patients can be extremely helpful in uncovering important health information - information patients might not offer up otherwise. Then, after the doctor saw you, the nurse likely returned to talk through any medications the doctor prescribed and to ask if you had any additional questions before helping you check out. This personal contact by nurses puts the nurses at risk of contracting COVID.

The time nurses spend with patients in the hospital is even greater than the time they spend with their children. So it is time sacrificed in itself and it is the risky time exposing them to COVID 19.

Nurses are often described as serving on the front lines of healthcare - the first to notice when a patient's condition has changed or to spring into action in a critical situation - and this deserve to be rewarded. The year 2020 has tested our spirit and resilience, while unveiling the systemic inequities facing low-income workers and essential employees across the country.

Especially during this public health emergency, no one should have to make the choice between going to work sick or losing the pay they desperately need.

Essential workers should include any jobs which make the lives of all better. We should celebrate our country's heroes and commit to building on the legacy of all who forgot their lives and save other's lives, by advocating for policies that empower working families and our communities.

People whose work is critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and economic transition response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors includes, but is not limited to, doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributors of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment. Drivers of public transport and those in the security forces. We must not forget those who work in childcare support and teaching staff social workers specialist education professionals who must remain active during the coronavirus (COVID-19) response to deliver this approach. Again we have key public services like those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services those responsible for the management of the deceased journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.

So in exempting people from restrictions the police officers must realise that people in the categories above are essential. They are fighting partners in this war of Covid. They include those involved in food: production, processing distribution sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines). They must be treated as criminals in the streets. Enforcing of rules does not mean being a bully. We further must remember those who deal in public safety and national security. This includes: police and support staff Ministry of Defence civilians contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This should as-well include fire and rescue service employees (including support staff) those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas. Despite being astray sometimes journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting workforce are deemed key workers. So the police must not harass them they must be treated as key workers because indeed they are.

We must remember that once a person is admitted in hospital it's only the nurses who visit them and give the shoulder. The time nurses spend with patients also provides them with unique insights into their patients' wants and needs, behaviours, health habits, and concerns, making them important advocates in their care. In fact, nurses are the people who see our relatives for the last time. For this reason, they must be respected.

Zimbabwe must show compassion to its heroes and instruct the enforcers to treat the key workers with respect they deserve. Corona is real people are dying in greater numbers. As a nation let's pray for one another. Let's pray for our country.

God have mercy on Zimbabwe. God bless us all.

Source - Dr Masimba Mavaza
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