Ghana: Community Health Nurses Resumes Strike

In Ghana, about 13,000 Community Health Nurses (CHNs) provide health care services to communities at their door step. Termed as ‘Home Visit’, CHNs visit communities to provide child welfare and family planning health services to rural communities. It was not long ago when rumours outraged that CHNs are planning to go on strike due to inconveniency within their sector of which they demand changes and improvement of service conditions from the Ghana Health Service.

Within last week, the strike commenced on the basis that GHS has proposed to change the certificate title of CHNs to Nursing Assistants with which leaders of CHNs strongly disagreed. Also, inadequate and unavailability of logistics and equipment needed by CHNs to perform their daily tasks were one of the major reasons behind the strike. Some other concerns revolved around the regulations regarding their promotion and bond years with the Government of Ghana (GoG), daily difficulties faced by CHNs in their quest to offer clinical services to villages and other rural settings and the unfavourable act of the GHS – denying CHNs study leave for upgrade courses and programmes, while they offer other similar units under the GHS such offers.

Within the past week, the general public – especially those in towns and villages have advocated for the CNH, thus, urging GHS to act upon their request to enable them to return to their unprecedented responsibilities as community health nurses. Following the many concerns raised by the public, GHS and the Community Health Nurses Association together with the Labour Commission of Ghana has come to agreement – leading to the end of the strike.

A statement made by Esther Bamfo (President of the Community Health Nurses Association) revealed that, there has been a mutual understanding between CHNs and their employer – GHS. Esther Bamfo said, ‘Our employers say for them, they will maintain our name Community Health Nurse’. In her statement, they are calling off the strike in view of this new development.

During an informal interview with some CHNs within the Adansi South District of Ghana, some CHNs revealed that their task is very demanding and requires true passion. ‘‘We travel long distance to remote villages and hard to reach communities to offer medical assistance. Some of the roads here are very poor and sometimes we are challenged to spend the night in some of these communities. Logistics to carry out our duties are also insufficient’’, a CHN said. She added that, their sector should attract investors as they have a lots of clients/patients who really value CHN services other than people in the city and that could be an opportunity for health sector investors.

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