Investing in the Power of Nurses

Women make up 70% of the total health and social care workforce. In the nursing and midwifery profession, that percentage is even higher. Despite this, however, women hold only 25% of health system leadership roles.

Addressing gender-related barriers to leadership in nursing is critical to ensuring universal access to quality health services and achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3.

Investing in the Power of Nurse Leadership: What Will It Take? is a new report launched by Nursing Now in collaboration with IntraHealth and Johnson and Johnson.

Drawing on surveys and interviews with over 2,500 nurses and nurse-leaders, the report offers essential new insights into the lived experiences of nurses worldwide.

At the Women Deliver 2019 Conference, Girls’ Globe spoke to Barbara Stilwell, Executive Director of Nursing Now.

She told us: “This moment in time is a moment for nurses. And I don’t think it will come again for a long time.”

The research found that there are a ‘constellation of barriers’ preventing female nurses in particular from progressing into leadership roles.

Key recommendations to address these barriers include:

1. Change the perception of the nursing as a ‘soft science’ and elevate the status and profile of nursing in the health sector.

2. Address occupational sex segregation and eliminate the perception of nursing as ‘women’s work.’

3. Eliminate employer discrimination on the basis of gender or child-bearing status.

4. Build nurses’ self-confidence and sense of preparedness to assume leadership positions.

5. Ensure workplace environments that are safe and responsive to work/life balance and allow for employee flexibility to fulfil both formal work and unpaid care responsibilities.

6. Ensure opportunities for nurses to access funding for leadership development, higher education, or other professional development.

7. Foster increased access to professional networks and mentoring schemes for nurses.

It’s clear that major changes are required to strengthen leadership and equality in the global nursing workforce. This report reflects the voices of nurses – it’s time for the rest of the world to listen.

This blog post was created by Girls’ Globe powered by Johnson & Johnson.

Global Healthcare: is there a Perfect System?

“It is easier to complain about a problem than it is to create a solution.”

This statement goes against everything I believe in. Yet, the truth is, I am often guilty of shouting into the ether or holding up a sign with words of disdain rather than slogans of hope. Sometimes we need a reminder that advocacy and development are based in the belief that things can, and should, be better. Take the global healthcare system, for example.

Healthcare is a topic capable of evoking a range of emotions. Things can get messy when there are so many categories to address and systems to choose from. April 7 2018 was World Health Day, on which the World Health Organization (WHO) marked its 70th anniversary and reminded us of its work over the past 7 decades – for example, “to rid the world of killer diseases like smallpox and to fight against deadly habits like tobacco use” (WHO). Addressing health needs is important, but so is addressing healthcare systems.

What is a healthcare system, you might ask? Well, the basic goals are to keep people healthy, to treat sickness and to exchange payment for service in some way. To meet those goals, steps are identified in each country and those steps make up a healthcare system.

We asked our network here at Swedish Organization for Global Health to weigh in on what a perfect healthcare system would look like for them. Is it universal health coverage? Single-payer? Everyone receiving healthcare clinician training?

Our main question: what components make up a good healthcare system?

According to the WHO, these 6 components create a well-functioning healthcare system:

  • Healthcare Workforce
  • Health Financing
  • Health Governance
  • Research and Innovation
  • Service Delivery
  • Medical Products

And according to SOGH, these additional components are needed:

  • Affordability, accessibility and quality care
  • Insurance that is affordable, humanized and effective
  • Inclusivity for all people, of all types, for all services (no discrimination)
  • Collaboration between all health care sectors and workers
  • Communication between patient and health care workers
  • Support and access to continuing education for health providers

The above are ingredients of a good healthcare system. After these components are implemented, what’s next? What is needed to ensure quality, strength, and sustainability of good healthcare systems? 

Is there a perfect healthcare system that will work for all countries, everywhere? I would argue, when stripped away of negativity, that yes – there is. Is that system the same for each country? I believe that while some aspects may be the same, there is not one perfect global system. The goal of healthcare for all countries should be the same, though the means to get there can and will differ.

I urge you to examine your own country’s healthcare system, and to think about how it affects or serves you and how you contribute to it. Try doing so from a gendered lens. This is not a hopeless or utopian task! Our lives and the lives of our children depend on how their health is prioritized.

Once you’ve read, considered and formed some of your own opinions, do something about it. Grab some friends, the phone, your computer, and remember that you have power to create solutions. Try reading up on this Health Data site, or click around on other global health platforms. We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.

“Humankind has become so much one family that we cannot ensure our own prosperity except by ensuring that of everyone else.” – Bertrand Russell

Equality for Mothers and Newborns on International Women’s Day

Written by Abbey Kocan, Executive Director of Kupona Foundation, and Erwin Telemans, CEO of CCBRT

This International Women’s Day, individuals and organizations across the globe are shining a light on the issue of women’s equality, and celebrating the accomplishments of extraordinary women.

As CEO of CCBRT, a leading provider of quality healthcare in Tanzania, and Executive Director of Kupona Foundation, CCBRT’s US-based sister organization, we are inspired every day by the women we serve in Tanzania. We also have a unique perspective on an inequality facing thousands of women in Tanzania: limited access to high quality maternal healthcare.

It speaks volumes that the majority of expectant mothers with the financial resources to do so will leave Tanzania to deliver their babies in South Africa, Kenya, or Europe. Why do they lack confidence in Tanzanian hospitals? Comprehensive emergency obstetric care is available in only 5% of Tanzania’s public hospitals. Expectant mothers know that if there is a complication during labor, both they and their baby might not survive. They also know that if their baby develops a birth defect during labor, attending medical teams may not be trained to identify and treat the impairment.

In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city, hospitals are overcrowded, under-resourced, and staff are overwhelmed. The healthcare system in Dar es Salaam was designed to support a population of 750,000 people; the population has now reached 4.4 million people.  Despite their best efforts to deliver high quality care to their patients, medical teams in Dar es Salaam have long been without the resources to do so.

Improving care for all women

For us, this work is very personal. We are a father of three and mother of one. When it was time for our children to be born, our only wish was that they arrive safely. We are now seeing that same wish come true for thousands of new mothers in Tanzania as they welcome healthy babies in safe, well-resourced facilities.

We are equipping medical teams to provide high quality care for mothers and babies as we build capacity in Dar es Salaam’s hospitals. Working with 22 health facilities, we train health workers in life saving emergency care, provide equipment, and strengthen existing infrastructure. With the support and partnership of the Government of Tanzania, who are also committed to addressing maternal and newborn mortality, we are making great strides. By filling the gaps, we ensure that fewer births result in complications, disabilities, and maternal deaths, and every woman has access to the care she needs.

Treating disabilities at birth

Last week, we celebrated World Birth Defects Day. March of Dimes reports that each year, almost 8 million babies are born with birth defects, starting their lives at a disadvantage.  Statistically, birth defects increase in severity and frequency in low-income countries like Tanzania.

CCBRT specializes in treating and preventing disabilities and birth defects in its 200-bed hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Every year, we treat thousands of patients living with clubfoot, cleft lip, cerebral palsy and congenital cataracts. Most of these disabilities developed, and could have been prevented, at birth.

In response, we train healthcare workers to recognize preventable defects at birth and raise awareness in the community via text message, radio and TV advertisements, educating parents on the availability and importance of early treatment for their children.

Today, CCBRT and Kupona join the global voice celebrating the extraordinary women in our lives. Our wish, as professionals and as parents, is that by supporting mothers with the care they need and deserve, we will raise the bar to provide safe, high quality care, accessible to all expectant mothers in Tanzania.

To learn more, visit our website, sign-up for our mailing list, and follow us on social media as we celebrate the 15th Anniversary of CCBRT’s Disability Hospital.