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Nursing, a Field Plagued with Issues

by Rana Ijaz Hussain Chohan
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Rana Ijaz Hussain Chohan

Nursing is the field within the healthcare system that plays a vital role in applying remedies to patients’ wounds and promoting their health. Unfortunately, due to various unfortunate circumstances, this field still remains far from its rightful place. The purpose of celebrating International Nurses Day on May 12 each year is twofold: on one hand, it acknowledges the commendable services of nurses, and on the other hand, it aims to raise awareness about the issues faced by women associated with this profession and make efforts for their recognition and support. It also serves as an occasion to commemorate the unforgettable contributions of the renowned nurse Florence Nightingale, who rendered invaluable services during the Crimean War. In reality, nursing is not just a profession; it is synonymous with passion. Indeed, the field of nursing exemplifies the highest form of dedication to serving humanity. In the realm of intense pain and suffering, a person seeks solace from someone who empathizes the most, and when someone provides relief, during that difficult time, no one else can surpass the gratitude of the person enduring that pain. It should be noted that the foundation of the nursing field in Pakistan was laid by Begum Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan.

According to the United Nations report, more than 200 million nurses around the world are providing services in various hospitals under the banner of humanitarian service. According to the report, Europe tops the list with 69.41 million nurses, while North America, primarily the United States, ranks second with 40.95 million nurses. Western Pacific, including Southeast Asia, ranks third with 34.66 million nurses, followed by Southeast Asia with 19.55 million nurses, and Africa with 7.92 million nurses.

According to the World Health Organization’s statistics, the highest number of nurses in the world is in the United States, where 26.69 million nurses are present in various hospitals. According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan, the country has 62,651 nurses. However, the nursing field still faces various challenges. According to the Pakistan Nursing Council, there are a total of 162 institutions established across all four provinces for the basic training of nurses. Among them, Punjab has 72, Sindh has 59, Balochistan has 12, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has 19 nursing institutions. Annually, these institutions produce 1,800 to 2,000 registered female nurses, 1,200 midwives, and approximately 300 lady health visitors who actively work in the field. However, there are only five institutions offering diploma and degree programs in the nursing field.

On the other hand, the current situation is such that there is a severe shortage of nurses in hospitals. In Pakistan, there has been a 70% increase in the number of nurses over the past 10 years, but despite that, there are only 5 nurses available for a population of 10,000. According to a survey, in the best hospitals of the country, there is only one nurse available for every eight beds to take care of patients, while there are hospitals in Pakistan where a staff nurse or charge nurse has to attend to more than fifty patients at the same time. Nurses, like doctors, are assigned three shifts of duty, which can range from ten to sixteen hours, and due to emergency situations, nurses often have to work overtime as well, but they are not paid for the extra hours. The responsible authorities of the Nursing Association say that nursing staff in government hospitals have to work more, but they lack the facilities provided to them.

If a nurse has to attend fifty patients at once, it becomes impossible for a human being to do so. The difficulty is also that in hospitals where doctors are required to spend two hours in the ward, nurses are forced to work for six hours in the morning and evening shifts, and twelve hours in the night shift. In such circumstances, not only can patients not be given proper attention, which can lead to the anger of patients’ relatives and sometimes even physical violence from them, but nurses who fulfill the duties of serving patients in cold, heat, rain, and day-night without caring for themselves are given a backbone in the field of health. However, they are forced to carry out professional activities in extremely difficult situations despite low wages and limited facilities. Most nurses working in the country consider themselves unsafe. Therefore, despite the burden of extra work, lack of facilities, and other problems, most nurses in government hospitals only opt for employment to gain experience, and as soon as they find a better place of employment, they immediately leave their government jobs and turn to private institutions or overseas. The government should prioritize solving the problems of nurses so that they can lead a peaceful life and serve and care for patients suffering from the agony of humanity and pain in a better way.

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