Resolve nurses’ grievances

Resolve nurses’ grievances

LAST week nurses across the country threatened to down tools to force the government to provide oxygen to Covid-19 patients.
The Lesotho Nurses Association (LNA) said it will call a massive stay-away if the situation in hospitals is not urgently addressed.

The association gave the government a week’s ultimatum to sort the issues.
The nurses’ demands came following a dramatic rise in Covid-19 deaths across the country in the first two weeks of the new year.
The nurses also disputed the statistics of casualties released by the National Covid-19 Secretariat (Nacosec) which they said were a gross understatement.
While their main grievance this time was the issue of oxygen provision in hospitals the nurses have also in the past complained bitterly about the lack of personal protective equipment in hospitals.

The nurses, who are in the frontline in this battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, are crying out for help. All they are asking for are the resources to enable them to do their work properly.
We would like to believe that these are honest demands that the government must urgently address.

It must be quite traumatic to work in institutions where one is not able to deliver services to the best of one’s ability merely because the hospitals do not have oxygen, a critical component for Covid-19 patients.
It is precisely for this reason that we think the Ministry of Health must address their demands with a sense of urgency.

The nurses are not asking for lavish allowances; they are merely asking for the basics of their trade so that they can save lives.
We are in a war zone; the bullets are flying. We cannot therefore ask nurses to go into battle without the necessary protective gear and whatever they need to execute their mandate.

Over the last few weeks, Covid-19 has hit us extremely hard. We have had loved ones painfully snatched away from us.
This is therefore no time for politicking; what we want to see is action and more action to salvage our rickety health delivery system.
Our health system might not be the best in the world; but we can get the basics right and save lives. That means ensuring a constant supply of oxygen for Covid-19 patients.

If we fail to do so, we are likely to have huge cases of depression among our health professionals such as nurses who are constantly dealing with Covid-19 patients in hospitals that are woefully resourced.
As painfully captured in one of our stories last week, the two hospitals that have been set aside to treat Covid-19 patients were on the verge of being overrun by desperate patients.

The surge in infections is putting pressure on health infrastructure. The catastrophic scenes in our morgues are frightening, to say the least.
The government must do all it can to support the nurses and doctors treating Covid-19 patients. With South Africa sealing its borders, we are on our own.

Health Minister Motlatsi Maqelepo must accede to the nurses’ demand to save lives. This is not about politics; it is about Basotho’s lives.
When people have died, in such shocking numbers that we have seen, it would appear callous to argue that all is under control.
The reality is that this is a war and we need all hands on the deck to fight this terrible disease.

And when vaccines eventually become available in Lesotho, nurses and other health professionals, must be first in the queue to get their jab.
They have made immense sacrifices and some of them have paid the ultimate price in the line of duty.

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