Sacrifice of Malaysia’s “Florence Nightingale” cannot be replaced

by BERNAMA/ pic by BERNAMA

WHILE some nurses in a few counties are lamenting over the new challenges in their workplace due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of Malaysia’s ‘Florence Nightingale’ are tirelessly doing their job with dedication, despite constraints and the new normal at work.

“There are news reports of nurses overseas quitting their job, some held protest due to shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). However, thankfully in our country, there is none acting like the nurses in other countries, which is commendable,” said Prof Zahrah Saad, who is a former dean at the Faculty of Nursing, MAHSA University, when  contacted by Bernama.

In conjunction with Nurses’ Day today,  Zahrah said nurses in the country deserve an accolade and suggested that a special allowance be given to health workers for their handling of COVID-19 patients as a token of appreciation for their sacrifices.

“Our nurses are disciplined and strong compared with some ‘missions’ abroad,” said Zahrah, who is also the MAHSA University  International Relations director.

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has set this year’s theme for the Nurses Day celebration as ‘Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Nursing the World to Health’ – which clearly portrays the role of nurses in restoring the world from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interestingly, this year is also the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale, a pioneer of modern nursing and Nurses Day is celebrated in conjunction with her birthday.

Zahrah said the the nursing profession is still sought by many and expressed the need for the authorities to come up with effective strategy by increasing the recruitment of nurses.

“Our country has not yet reached the target of having a ratio of one nurse for  200 residents as set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“The current ratio is 1:350,” she added.

Zahrah, who was MAHSA’s dean of nursing from  2005 until 2019, said nurses should have knowledge and skills in various medical fields, including in paediatric, obstetric, and orthopedic,  to assist other health workers in times of emergency.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH) Director of Nursing, Tumble Ngadiran @ Tomblow,  in an e-mail reply, said there are 130,169 nurses in the country who are registered with the Malaysian Nursing Board, with 88,103 of them with the ministry.

A nurse at Banting Hospital, Nur Nabiila Masfuzah Abdullah, 34, said her mother’s strong desire to see her become a nurse,  coupled with her own experience in dealing with patients, made her committed to her job.

“My ambition was to be a lawyer, but my mother often told me that being a nurse, in helping other people, is a noble job. The job of a nurse also involves providing mental and emotional support to patients.

“I used to face a situation where a patient died suddenly despite looking healthy, and there are also some who pray for us because of the job we do,” said Nur Nabiila Masfuzah, who has been a nurse for nine years and has served in Sarawak and Negeri Sembilan.

The woman, who is active on social media (Facebook) under the name ‘Bel Nawhen’, is the deputy treasurer of Medical Mythbusters Malaysia, a health-based non-governmental organisation , and is also deputy chairman of the Delegation of Nurses.

Although the COVID-19 outbreak posed a challenging period for healthcare workers,  Nur Nabiila Masfuzah said she hoped her colleagues would persevere and to be proud of their uniform.

“Our leave has been frozen. We have to endure the heat and fatigue, while helping with the COVID-19 sampling process, but we remain committed. Nurses do not ask for recognition, all we want is for the public to understand our job,” she added.

S.Nithyadevi, a nurse at Penang Hospital, said the COVID-19 outbreak was a great ‘blow’ to the frontliners as they had to make various sacrifices in line with their duty.

“Leave is frozen, children have to be sent to our parents back home (because the childcare centres are closed), there are staff who are doing post-basic education being called on duty and there are also those who are forced to go for ‘self-quarantine’ because they are exposed to COVID-19 patients.

“There will be no festive celebration this year, but I hope all nurses will continue their work sincerely with all their heart. Let’s work together to realise the Zero Covid Cases in Malaysia. Happy Nurses’ Day. Stay safe Malaysians,” she said.

Another nurse, Subbaiah Salim, of  Umra Hospital in Shah Alam, Subbaiah Salim, said the COVID-19 pandemic would leave a huge impact on the lives of nurses and considered it as a ‘tsunami’.

“The biggest challenge facing us is the fear of bringing home the germs. Patients are normally not honest with us when questioned during screening. It is sad when some of our colleagues and doctors are infected with COVID-19 due to patients’ selfish attitude in concealing about their close contact with COVID-19 patients,” she added.

It is hoped that all the deeds and sacrifices of the nurses are appreciated and the need for the society to understand their job. Nurses do not just change bed sheets or make the bed, they do a lot more, Happy Nurses Day!