Working on Improving the Nursing Profession in Yemen [Archives:1998/23/Health]

June 8 1998

Ms. Barbara Johnston is a nursing adviser and a health services management consultant at the Ministry of Public Health. In England, she was in charge of two hospitals, 240 beds in one and 150 in the other, and a home for 30 physically handicapped adults. She also worked in Kuwait, Somalia, Jordan, Nairobi, Kenya and Prague.
Dr. Salah Haddash interviewed Ms. Johnston:
Q: Could you briefly tell us about your work in Yemen?
A: We are making plans for modern basic nursing training in the country at the two universities, in the medical and nursing faculties. Human beings cannot live without health from conception to death, and cannot live without education. Education in today’s world is never finished.
So we are planning to make the people in Yemen aware of the role of the nurse in the community and teaching the children in school healthier living. Healthy eating and healthy living is very cost effective if it prevents diseases. Also, we aim to teach in the medical faculty and in the nursing faculty human psychology.
Q: How important is nurse training?
A: If you think it is the doctor who sees the patient, diagnoses problems and recommends the treatment, then who takes over?
The nurse works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A nurse is responsible for monitoring the illness, the recovery and the effect of the treatment. Then if anything is a miss, we must be able to report it to the doctor concerned.
The role of nurses has changed considerably all over the world, so why not in Yemen? There are professors of nursing in universities in the UK as well as research professors. Nurses are now running there own clinics, carrying out surgery and writing prescriptions. There is no reason why nurses cannot do this in Yemen. The nurse has to be recognized as the back-bone of your good national health service and this program is very well supported by the Minister of Health and his policies to improve the health service.
Q: What should be done to improve hospital services in Yemen?
A: A hospital needs to have policies on infection control and this involves members of the general public who come to the hospitals. They must realize that they have to be a part of this infection control. They cannot come in at any time of the day or night unless the patient is seriously ill.
There must be an entrance for all staff working in the hospital, and they must not leave until they finish their duty. Also there should be a door for visitors to come in, and visiting hours should be between 2 and 4 in the afternoon and also between 6 and 8 in the evening because patients are sick, they are not waiting for a social event.
I have seen 10 or 12 people standing round the bed of a sick person talking and shouting and the sick person is not saying a word. They bring in infections when they come in.
There should be a health and safety policy towards the staff. Annual medical examination and immunization programs should be set up.
It is possible to consider that the hospitals have nurseries so that women can bring their children while on duty. There is a lot to be done. Change is not easy, it has to be done, and I hope soon.
Q: How can we raise public awareness regarding these issues?
A: The public needs to be aware of the changing role of the health services and the reliance on prevention instead of spending on cures.