Governing bodies clash over nurses, midwives training

Mulago Hospital nurses during a strike over low payment in 2018. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • UNMC has, however, said the nurses’ union, has no legal basis to call for scrapping of the interviews.

On November 13, videos and photos showing nurses and midwives crowded at Mayanja Memorial Hospital in Mbarara, made rounds on social media. 

In the videos, some of those in attendance fainted due to the sweltering heat as they waited to get registered. 

This followed an advert by the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council (UNMC) calling on all the qualified nurses and midwives to go for registration which it said would be done at regional centres.

However, some nurses wondered why they were being subjected to fresh examinations and interviews after passing the national examinations set by the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Examinations Board (UNMEB).

“It is very confusing and sabotaging that after passing and excelling in these exams set, supervised and marked by the entrusted examinations board, you again hear of exams and interviews by UNMC [that one needs to do] before this person can be licensed, authorised and registered as a nurse or midwife,” a nurse who preferred not to be named, said.

The Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union faulted the council for the mess and demanded that such registration interviews be abolished with immediate effect, a move the council has rejected.

Mr Justus Cherop Kiplangat, the president of the nurses and midwives union, said the manner in which nurses and midwives are being handled shows unprofessionalism, and old fashioned style of management which is shaming and demeaning.

“As Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union, we demand, with immediate effect, that such exams which are not universal be scrapped because the certified examination bodies of nurses and midwives will have already proved that a person is competent,” he said.

He added: “Why should we be subjected to that erratic interview after we have passed the national examinations? If they want to be part of the examining body, that should be during the training and when the nurses and midwives are doing exams instead of subjecting them to another set of exams,” he said.

UNMC has, however, said the nurses’ union, has no legal basis to call for scrapping of the interviews.

Ms Angela Ilangut, the registrar of the council, said UNMC regulates all the nurses irrespective of their level of qualification and that the interviews they conduct before the registration of nurses is within their mandate.

“Originally the training was under the Ministry of Health and it was the nurses and midwives council supervising and handling the examination of the nurses and so these interviews were not there. Later on, the training of nurses and all the other health professionals went to the Ministry of Education and as a regulatory body, that means our role to regulate and supervise the examinations was usurped,” Ms Ilangut said. 

She added: “So when it went there, we said we can’t just see Ministry of Education training nurses and churning them to go out and work without us who are the regulators of their practices knowing. We are not sure of how they have conceived the examinations anyway.”

She said during the enrolment of the students, many times the nursing council is not involved and, therefore, students are admitted without the minimum requirements to join the institutions.

Ms Ilngut said through the interviews, they have been able to fish out quack nurses and those with forged academic papers.  She said the council will not be intimidated to stop performing its supervisory duties.

Background
In 1998, health training institutions were placed under the Department of Higher Education in the Ministry of Education  and nurses and midwives were examined by Uganda Nurses and Midwives Examinations Board (UNMEB). 

This, however, did not sit well with the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council (UNMC) which stated that it was not sure of the quality of students passed by the Education ministry and in 2006 the council announced plans to administer another set of examinations to students, who would have passed the national examinations set by UNMEB.

Eventually Cabinet moved the institutions to Ministry of Health in 2008. 

At the time, professionals in the medical field welcomed the move arguing that for years the standard of medical training in nursing schools was deteriorating because of the absence of direct supervision from the Ministry of Health.

However, in 2017, the institutions were again sent back to the Ministry of Education. 

However, despite the above provisions, the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council has continued to administer the interview which it says is to check on the quality of the nurses trained.

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