Today is International Nurses Day—a special day designated to celebrate the critical role nurses play in healthcare. Nurses are often the unsung heroes when it comes to detecting health emergencies, and work on the frontlines of disease prevention. But despite their commitment to saving lives, the World Health Organization acknowledges that there is a shortage of trained nurses worldwide, which is expected to rise as the population grows.
It is for this reason that, since 2019, mothers2mothers (m2m) evolved its programme in Lesotho to include a clinical component, and has employed 11 nurses to work alongside the team of 361 Mentor Mothers in the country. This move into clinical services was necessary to address barriers to healthcare that our clients in Lesotho face, and ensure that we fulfil our commitment to bring health services closer to the communities we serve while alleviating the country’s overstretched healthcare system.
The theme for this year’s International Nurses Day is: “Nurses: A Voice to Lead – A vision for future healthcare,” which seeks to show what the profession of nursing will look like in the future, and how it will transform the next stage of healthcare.
Reflecting on the theme, m2m’s Lesotho Country Director—Mpolokeng Mohloai, who is also a qualified Nurse, says: “I envision the future of healthcare to have different cadres of frontline health workers working in harmony, to bring health and hope to our communities. In this ideal world, nurses will be able to work in fields they have specialised training in and are most passionate about.”
COVID-19 overwhelmed hospitals and clinics in many countries, and put additional strain on healthcare professionals, especially nurses, such as Sebabatso Molete—an m2m Nurse in Lesotho. Some of the challenges they faced included the critical shortage of staff and medical supplies, inadequate to no access to personal protective equipment, and the mental and physical exhaustion of responding to the pandemic.
“The lockdown and travel restrictions meant that many people living in rural communities, could not access health services at the health facilities. To bridge this gap, I am one of the nurses who climbed Lesotho’s mountains and crossed rivers, to bring health services to the people who need it most,” says Sebabatso.
Sebabatso’s grandmother inspired her to become a nurse. “When I was very young, I burned myself, and my wound had to be cleaned every other day. My grandmother took care of me. She was kind and gentle as she dressed my wounds, and I did not cry even though it was painful when the old bandages were removed. I knew when I was older that I wanted to be just like her. She was my role model,” she added.
To be a nurse and to be able to save lives, Sebabatso says, is the most rewarding part of her job. “Working through this pandemic has been extremely difficult, but despite the challenges, knowing that I played a part in changing someone’s life, is extremely satisfying!”
Mpolokeng added: “One of my greatest advantages in my role as the m2m Lesotho Country Director is that I know, whenever I feel my nurse’s fire burning inside me, I can simply shut down the computer, adorn my uniform and epaulettes and go to the communities to help our people. I may not do this as often as I would love to but each time I get an opportunity to, I am left with a sense of contentment I cannot describe.”
At mothers2mothers, Nurses’ Day does not only come once a year. Our team of nearly 1,800 Mentor Mothers is working alongside nurses to provide health and support to women and children across sub-Saharan Africa. We will continue to grow and innovate our programme to achieve health and wellbeing for all, which is critical to creating a truly healthy, HIV-free generation.