Nurses are the hospitality of hospitals. At a time when the caring sisters have become an indispensable part of the medical profession, they are leaving Pakistan in large numbers for countries where they are offered better salaries and incentives. Pakistan is already facing a shortage of 1.3 million nurses. The present trend of nurses preferring to work in foreign countries needs to be reversed considering the already poor nurse-patient ratio in the country. At present, this ratio is 1: 50 while the Pakistan Nursing Council has prescribed a ratio of 1:10 in generalised areas and 2:3 in specialised areas.
There are several reasons for the increasing shortage of nurses in the country. Some of these are low pay, long working hours, lack of respect, risky work environment and ironical societal attitude towards the noble profession. All this acts as disincentives to joining the profession. This is why we see male nurses working in hospitals in conservative societies. Nurses are risking their life in serving patients of coronavirus, but they are not being paid adequate compensation and incentives. Nurses attending to those suffering from Covid-19 live in hospitals round the clock. In some cases, they have not been provided with personal safety equipment. Nurses, who are also called angels of mercy, are reportedly being meted out step-motherly treatment by the authorities; it should not come as a surprise if they are leaving the country for better opportunities. Nurses are care and compassion personified. Their smile works wonders with patients.
At a recent event held to mark the birth anniversary of the founder of the nursing profession, Florence Nightingale, experts and authorities acknowledged the issues facing nurses in the country and pledged to take corrective measures. Only time will tell whether the promise gets translated into practical steps. Unfortunately, sometimes we witness the police subjecting female nurses to rough treatment when they demand their due rights. Florence Nightingale attended to wounded soldiers and thus preached compassion. We should not let down the Lady with the Lamp.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2021.