By Chioma Obinna
Domestic violence has been identified as one of the endemic health challenges at all levels of life including school, workplace, public places, and religious settings. To this end, stakeholders who gathered at the 2012 Nigerian Nursing Excellence Awards have called for inclusion of domestic violence in school curriculum of medical schools, particularly in nursing schools across the country.
They said investing more in nursing practices and other public systems would reduce the many health challenges facing Nigeria, especially in reducing maternal and child mortality ratio with the sole aim of achieving Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.
Associate Professor, Department of Nursing Science, Obafemi Awololowo, University, Ile Ife, Dr. Omolola Irinoye said the health consequences of domestic violence, as they relate to high maternal morbidity and mortality in all its contexts and ramification in Nigeria’s health care settings, demand that health professionals, especially nurses, must be appropriately trained in primary, secondary and tertiary prevention of violence.
She said the focus of the training must be on anticipatory personal and family education, surveillance, prompt diagnosis especially in dysfunctional families and those in life crises, referral for appropriate support (support group, legal redress). “This has implication for curricula review and continuing educational programmes for all health care providers.
“The nurse must identify the family support system; identify the coping skills of affected individual and family, report cases of abuse to appropriate quarters e.g. Ministry of Women Affairs and Social development, Protect against suicidal tendencies through education to family members on safety of the environment. Nurses should identify agencies that could be of help e.g. churches, schools, volunteer agencies or support groups,” she added.
Irinoye explained that the inclusion of identification and prevention of domestic violence in the curriculum of schools of nursing, would enable practicing nurses to quickly identify pregnant women experiencing domestic violence in their various homes.
The Executive Director, Centre For the Right to Health in Nigeria, CRH, Dr. Stella Iwuagwu who is also the initiator of the award bemoaned the poor state of the nation’s hospitals, blaming it on the negative attitude of some nurses, especially those in government hospitals, which members of the public complained about.
Iwuagwu explained that the award was borne out of the need to care for the carers and reward excellence so as to motivate them to do more.
In his speech, the Project Director, CRH, Mr. Bede Eziefule said the programme, which began in 2007, was to recognise outstanding nurses who had demonstrated true professionalism. “Gone are the days when people wait for their rewards in heaven. Although, they would get their rewards in heaven, it is worthy to start the recognition of excellence on earth,” he said
While making reference to the general criticism from the public to the effect that nurses were generally insensitive, he said, “We should not continue to criticise nurses for wrong doing. We must learn to recognise their good works.”
High point of the event was the presentation of the excellence award to the outstanding five nurses which include three student nurses and two practicing nurses after seven months of hard work. The awardees include; Ruth Adenike Opewande, Lynda Chidinma, Ochigbo Catherine, Emmanuel Tiyakanet, and Gbelagi George Gbaden.