Nurses Focusing on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Seychelles
17 August 2021
Contributor: Winifred Agricole, Registrar, Seychelles Nurses and Midwives Council
At the start of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic shook the world. At the same time, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Council of Nurses (ICN) had declared the year 2020 to be celebrated as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, emphasizing the importance of the contribution of nurses and midwives to bringing better healthcare to the world. The celebration was aimed at improving the visibility of the nursing and midwifery professions.
As such, the nurses of Seychelles coordinated their efforts to develop an activity plan which could reflect the role and importance of nurses and midwives in health promotion, provision and prevention of diseases. Unexpectedly, the COVID-19 pandemic provided nurses and midwives with overwhelming opportunities to be valued as important members of the healthcare team. Increasingly, nurses appeared on the media, in health and non-health establishments, in the community, where they engaged in activities to mitigate any potential for the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
As in most countries worldwide, nurses and midwives in Seychelles form the majority of healthcare workers delivering healthcare services to the community. Nurses are considered to be the backbone of the healthcare system and the role they play in health is essential to improving healthcare. Being the first point of contact in the healthcare system, the nurse plays a vital role in improving accessibility to healthcare services. Therefore, nurses must remain up to date with the most recent information, so they can be empowered and can support individuals, families and the community in maintaining their health. Due to their position in the healthcare system, they also have the advantage of being effective and influential at all stages of life along the healthcare continuum.
Nurses and midwives are delivering preventive and promotional activities to ensure that the population is protected from the spread of the coronavirus. The first step was to empower nurses and midwives and to embark on the process of community engagement through education using credible means of communication, such as the national media. Nurses were aware of the importance of remaining safe at the same time as protecting their patients through continuous training and monitoring.
Nurses in Seychelles felt they were in the midst of all the transitions that were taking place in attempt to minimize the spread of COVID-19. An evaluation of the nursing population in the country was undertaken through a mapping exercise using the database of the Seychelles Nurses and Midwives Council. Nurses were re-allocated, as new health centres opened. Nurses working on infection control units participated in the training of nurses and other healthcare workers, refreshing their knowledge in infection control including basic hygienic measures. Health promotion activities were extended to the general public and work establishments.
Coincidentally, the Council managed to secure access to online continuous professional development (CPD) for nurses and midwives which became effective in January 2020. The online CPD, sponsored by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), provided learning modules on COVID-19, thereby widening the sources of knowledge on the subject for nurses and midwives in Seychelles.
General nurses also developed new skills in the process of working in private and government establishments where they participated in the development of standard operating procedures, facilitating training for staff members, performing contact tracing, carrying out PCR screening, participating in media interviews, and monitoring implementation of infection control measures. Much effort has been put on the implementation of preventive health strategies, which has resulted in the containment of infection.
In conclusion, the health system and consumers of nursing services have valued the contribution of nurses and midwives who have helped enormously to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 in the population. Nurses and midwives, being close to the community, can make a difference in the health of the nation and can engage and support the community to remain in good health. Moreover, nursing as a profession can bring the health system to a higher standard through the quality of health services and rapid response to new changes when there are possible threats to the health of the world’s population.