International Nurses Day marked

Kathmandu, May 12

As International Nurses Day was marked across the world today, nurses in Nepal demanded decent pay for their services.

This year the theme of the day was ‘Nurses a Voice to Lead – Health is a Human Right.' The day also marks the birth anniversary of founder of modern nursing Florence Nightingale.

Most of the nurses in the country are compelled to work as volunteers and are underpaid. Professor Tara Pokharel, president of Nursing Association of Nepal, said,“Nurses are working as volunteers, but even those without experience are made to work in intensive care units and for critical care and emergencies. Nurses work under pressure for long hours, but they are not paid accordingly,” she added.

Nurses have also demanded that nurse-patient ratio be raised. A single nurse has been taking care of dozens of patients in hospitals. “One nurse should be made to look after five patients in the general ward. Likewise, there should be three nurses for a single patient in the operation theatre and one nurse for each patient in the intensive care unit. There should be two nurses to take care of the patient in the labour room,” said Pokhrel.

At an event organised to mark the day here today, nurses also demanded that the undergraduate course of nursing be made of five years so that they gained experience before they started practice. Bachelor of Nursing is a three-year academic programme. The nurses also need at least one-year experience for enrolment in the Bachelor's and Master's levels.

Nurses have also demanded appointment in the leadership position and establishment of a separate Nursing Division at the Ministry of Health. They have demanded that males too be allowed to study nursing so that gender balance may be maintained in the sector. “The role of male nurses were seen after the 2015 earthquakes as we needed help from men. We should be prepared to overcome such disasters and we need male nurses to join us in such emergency situations,” said Pokharel.

Meanwhile, they also asked the government to stop migration of nurses to foreign countries. An estimated 10,000 nurses are living abroad as per Pokharel. There are 79, 957 nurses registered with Nurse Association of Nepal.