OPINION | Keeping Hadiza’s Dream of Being a Nurse Alive

*Hajiya Rukaiya Shettima, provost, College of Nursing and Midwifery, Maduguri.





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Hadiza the Nurse died while trying to achieve her dream, Hauwa her sister is pursuing the same dream but she may see her’s realizable through the help of World Health Organisation reports Abraham Olatokunbo

Hadiza Ibrahim could have been 25 years now, she was born in Shehuri ward of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State to a humble Kanuri family. She was the second child in a family of six children, four boys and two girls. The last born of the family, Hauwa is now 19 years and recently finished her secondary school education.
Hadiza, since she was two had always had a toy she played with, this was not strange as that was the tradition of all girls of her age. But when she grew to be five, the whole neighbourhood had started seeing something different in her, for she had taken interest in treating injured pets and would stand by sick people petting and talking to them until they regain strength. In fact the entire neighbourhood has started calling her Hadiza the Nurse.
As she grew older, she did not forget her dream and when she left secondary school and old enough to pursue her dream, she sought admission into College of Nursing and Midwifery Maiduguri, twice she sought the admission, twice she was denied for the school could not accommodate many students.
Even with this blip, Hadiza never let her dream die, she went to seek admission in neighbouring Yobe state, though she was offered an admission, she never got to accept it, register or graduate. On her way back from Damaturu, the Yobe state capital, she was among the lives cut short by Boko Haram, and so ended the life-dream of Hadiza the “Nurse”. How many other Hadizas have had their dreams brutally terminated by none available or enough opportunities at the College of Nursing and Midwifery Maiduguri?
Hadiza’s sister Hauwa, who though never showed all the signs of a great nurse, has chosen to walk the path of the deceased Hadiza by becoming a nurse and to live the hope of Hadiza, she is planning to enroll at the College of Nursing and Midwifery Maiduguri. Hopefully she would not be denied an admission as the school which could only admit 50 students with the assistance of World Health Organisation now can admit 100 students after meeting the full accreditation criteria.
Speaking on the latest status of the school, the Provost, Hajiya Rukaiya Shettima, said the school is now equipped to move into the next level of being an elite institution for the training of nurses and midwives. She said the institution has had a glorious past and has produced thousands of nurses and midwives who are working within and outside the country and have equally distinguished themselves but what could have been more was made little because all that was needed to satisfy the full accreditation was not available.
She said the College began as School of Nursing in 1971 before it was converted to School of Midwifery, noting that it started with a total of 15 nurses, 119 student-nurses, two midwife educators and six nurse educators.
The school established by the defunct Northeastern government, Shettima said even with the shortfalls has had measured achievements, performing wonderfully well and have always received recommendations from all over the world.
She said:” I came in as a student in 1981. At the National Examinations, we used to record 100 percent, 90 percent and so on, until recently, when the percentage started declining due to the obsolete equipment in the College.
“In 2016, the then governor, Kashim Shettima, deemed it necessary and upgraded the school to status of a college.  So on 29th of August, the College came into being. Although, it was a College, our performance didn’t go well because, scores and percentage didn’t go the way we wanted.
“Percentage at the national examinations at a time between, 2014 to 2015 came even below 50. But with the intervention of some partners like WHO, Women For Health, the percentage started to increase. And since 1971 and 1972 that the school was established, it has maintained probationary accreditation, meaning that we cannot admit more than 50 students.
“So until March 2020, when we had last accreditation, we obtained full accreditation with a slot of 100 students per programme. Based on the facilities we had, they added another programme.  We have programmes like basic nursing, basic midwifery and community midwifery.
“Although,  we are yet to start community nursing, it has been approved with an index place of 100 students for each of the courses. And our performance at the last national examinations rose from 50 percent to 95 and 98 percent respectively. “
She traced the new upsurge in the coming of majorly WHO to the assistance of the college, “the school has enjoyed first class facilities. I can recall during the accreditation process, the accreditation team went into the college library and were looking for books and fortunately, some of the books that were supplied by WHO were latest editions and that earned praises for us.”
She said now facilities in the school have come to ease the training of students because of the electronic equipment that were installed there.
On her experience then, when the school did not have full accreditation, and now that it has full accreditation, the Provost said then, “we were producing students with certificates but now, with the status of the school as a college,  the school has all it takes to produce students with Higher National Diploma (HND).”
She said before the coming of WHO, the school skill laboratory for nursing was dilapidated, adding that it was not worth for training, but WHO stepped in and renovated it.
She said: “Chairs for students were completely worn out and WHO provided 385 chairs. Science laboratory was rehabilitated with gas cylinders,  microscope, chemicals for testing and computers for keeping data in the laboratory were as well supplied by WHO.
Rukaiya recalled that what brought WHO into the affairs of the school was that the attention of the organisation was drawn to the dilapidated nature of some equipment of the school when they were organising trainings, and they felt a school with great potentials should be assisted to achieve it’s dream.
She prided that the school is now in the rank of elite nursing and midwifery institutions, one of the challenges it has to face is the overwhelming number of admission seekers that outnumbered the slot approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN).
She said with the full accreditation of the College of Nursing and Midwifery Maiduguri, the training of more nurses and midwives that will fill the gaps created by the destructive effect of Boko Haram insurgency on health institution, which saw some health workers killed with many others fleeing Borno State to safer areas.
Even prior to the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno and other States of Northeast,  the health indices of the State and region are one of the worst in the country, with dearth of health facilities and the ever present epidemic of otherwise treatable diseases.
The problem of healthcare in the state was compounded by Boko Haram who attacked the health sector with so much hatred, destroying health facilities and killing of health workers.
With the insurgency going beyond a decade, the situation is evidently worse. In 2018 alone, attacks on healthcare system have become common place . A total of 13 attacks on health facilities leading to 17 deaths and 12 injuries were reported in 2018. Eight of the attacks involved health personnel, five affected supplies, four were on health facilities, and one on transport logistics.
As a result, many health workers were displaced, others killed or Injured and many more fled their locations for safety . Hence few staff are left to provide healthcare services to the teeming vulnerable population in the Borno State, affected populations remain at high risk of epidemic – prone diseases like malaria, cholera , measles, meningitis, Lassa fever and yellow fever.
To address this obvious gaps, it became imperative to build the capacity of the health workforce and strengthen the curriculum of existing health institutions in Borno State.
With funding support from the European Union (EU) , the World Health Organisation (WHO), equipped the College of Nursing and Midwifery Maiduguri, Borno State with laboratory equipment and classroom facilities including, electronic learning aids to enable the college improve the quality of its training which will invariably impact on the overall healthcare system for the teeming vulnerable population of Borno State.
Today, the college which has existed for 40 years without full accreditation, has obtained full accreditation from the Council of Nursing and Midwifery with the support of WHO’s donation of required laboratory equipment, classroom facilities, books among others, this has made a
noble institution for training of critical health workers have all it takes to produce world standard graduates of Nursing and Midwifery.
Across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States, health resources are available at varying degrees in various locations.  Only 30 percent of health facilities in Borno State are fully functional according to WHO health resources availability monitoring system ( HeRAMS), with 45 percent in Adamawa and 69 percent in Yobe State.
Consequently,  more than 1.7 million vulnerable women in the Northeast are of reproductive age (15 to 49 years ), and required reproductive healthcare and support.
With the accreditation of the College of Nursing and Midwifery Maiduguri by the  Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria, all hope is not lost on production  of health workforce to tackle the health challenges bedeviling the Boko Haram ravaged Borno State and other States of Northeast.
Perhaps if this had come more earlier, Hadiza would have truly been a “nurse” and her dream would not have been cut short by a set of highway marauders.

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