The Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association (GRNMA) has called for the overhaul of the education of nurses and midwives to make the nation's health system safer.
The association noted with concern that the curricula of nursing colleges were out of date and did not adequately prepare nurses and midwives for the changing needs of the patients.
According to the President of the GRNMA, Dr Kwaku Asante-Krobea "most nursing college curricula today are loaded with content and facts to be memorised in mostly passive learning”.
Dr Krobea-Asante, who was addressing the 16th biennial national delegates conference of the GRNMA in Cape Coast, said training in medical specialties also failed to adequately address care coordination while clinical focus on acute care did not prepare nurses for any of the non-hospital roles they might assume after school.
He noted that in recent times, there had been a sharp decline of quality among nurses and midwives due to lack of confidence in the preparation of such critical health service providers.
"We are where we are because the nursing and midwifery education has been blatantly undermined by the institutions that have power to determine the direction. The shift of the paradigm of emphasis has either been for personal gains or political expediency all to the detriment of quality care and patient safety," he observed.
Dr Krobea-Asante said it should be possible for the healthcare system to put in place a structure for current lower level nurses and midwives to upgrade through the offer of scholarships and grants with academic leaves.
He noted that as a profession, nursing and midwifery was moving beyond the objective of simply increasing its numbers to positioning itself in a healthcare environment that was being transformed to meet the needs of society for higher quality, safer, more affordable and more accessible health care.
Dr Krobea-Asante further expressed worry over the proliferation of nursing and midwifery training schools without recourse to quality and called for discipline in regulating the establishment of these institutions.
In an address read on his behalf, the Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, said the government acknowledged the critical role nurses and midwives played in healthcare in the country and was working to ensure they were provided with the needed environment for the provision of quality health care.
The immediate past Dean, School of Nursing of the University of Cape Coast, Professor Ernestina Donkor, said it was time to build quality professionals for the health sector and called for higher education and specialisation, saying it was necessary for efficiency.
The Central Regional Minister, Mr Kwamena Duncan, said the association had a daunting task to correct negative perceptions of unfriendly attitudes towards patients.