Nursing care, who cares?

Outine of the debate
Are we enough equipped to provide good nursing care to patients?

Great efforts have been made to strengthen nursing care throughout the MSF-movement, and dedicated new tools have been developed in the medical world to support nursing staff.
But are we sufficiently equipped today to ensure sustainable nursing care practices?
And have we done enough for our field staff to support them in the dilemma of providing care to patients with limited resources?

Worldwide there are 43.5 million health care workers – almost half are nurses and midwives. In MSF 8834 nurses provide nursing care and supervision in the field – they save lives and alleviate suffering. This group constitutes 1/5 of our entire HR, among which 90% are national staff. The proximity of nurses to patients (and their families) and the relationship between them is a specificity of their job.

In different times and places different kinds of practices will be valued as high quality nursing care. This is true also within MSF, as we operate in very different contexts ranging from basic health structures in extremely poor and remote areas, to implementing high-tech hospital care in middle-income countries where expectations of what we can provide are far greater.

Over the last years we have seen several initiatives where implementation of new technology and innovation provide us an opportunity to deliver increased quality of care to our patients. In 2016 MSF performed 92 600 major surgical interventions and performed almost 10 million outpatient consultations. At the same time, nosocomial infections and outbreaks continue to contribute to preventable morbidity and mortality in our projects. Many of these situations could have been prevented if basic hygiene measures and infection control protocols were implemented more strictly. More patients could have been saved with better nursing care.

In order to ensure provision of high quality nursing care to our patients, we need to have a clear understanding of what this concept means to us. In order to do so, we propose four interdependent core values that should guide and inspire nurses in their activities:

- Person centred care
- Empathy
- Interdiciplinarity
- Safe practice

Moderator: Anneli Eriksson, registered nurse, Master of Science in International Health, OCB Board member

Andrea Marelli, Referent Nursing Care OCB
Margret Chigwanba, nurse OCB Zimbabwe mission
Line Lootens, expatriate nurse MSF Belgium
Sebastian Spencer, Medical director OCB


Want to know more?
Read the report in Contact Magazine, by Anneli Eriksson and Karine Nordstrand


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By: Sophie Guillaumie