At the service desk I earwigged a nurse on phone pleading with a colleague to cover for her as she is next to be served, an indication she was running late so, upon hearing that, I opted to move behind the gentleman between us so the nurse could take my turn while I waited a little longer but to my surprise the gentleman declined to sit on the chair vacated by the nurse whiles inaudibly lamenting that, the nurse is a conduit of coronavirus, meaning our nurses are spreading the virus hence we should be careful with all of them, in fact he went ahead to assure me that he had evidence of his allegations.
Considering the general heartening attitude of some of our nurses, particularly in the wake of this pandemic, this behavior was extremely mean and unacceptable on the part of the gentle man and, like a lioness with the will of a dragon, I did not waste time in putting him at the right place however, I reckon the gentleman may be right to some extent.
Perhaps it’s high time the Ministry of Health take a scientific look at the health workers’ uniforms because, even though they may be knowledgeable in how diseases spread and can prevent contaminating themselves, majority of the general public are not privy to the lifecycle of microorganisms.
Let me state emphatically that, we do not only love and cherish our nurses and doctors, we also appreciate their hard work and dedication to humanity, although you will agree with me that, at the sight of their uniforms, either chills rundown your spine or you will be engulfed with hope and gratefulness to God. Actually, how the individual feels upon seeing them all depends on that person’s previous and present experiences with them.
The nurses’ uniforms are so common that it is almost impossible not to spot them wherever you may be out and about across Ghana. Albeit, some of them change into their uniforms at work, majority of them wear their uniforms to and from work. Jumping from Taxi to Trotro through to Ayaalolo and recently Uber of course, they don’t have the luxury of staff busses to get to work and, they aren’t lucky enough to be allocated with a nurses’ quarters like few of their colleagues who live within the hospital environs. Some of these nurses commute from home to the hospital through Makola, Maalata, Shopping Malls, and even picking and hugging kids from school while in uniform.
As a matter of urgency I think the manner in which the Ghana health workers uniforms is used should be a major public health concern that needs to be addressed immediately, considering the emerging highly resistant infectious diseases such as, covid-19 and the newly found swine flu and other health issues around the world.
It has been suggested that, the health workers clothing can be a reservoir for the transmission of microorganisms’ therefore, wearing this uniform outside the hospital walls can be dangerous because the spread of pathogens becomes inevitable. Besides, available data published by the journal of public health and epidemiology and other health journals across the globe has confirmed the presence of bacteria on the uniforms irrespective of whether they wear a gown or aprons on top of their uniforms. For instance countries including the United Kingdom, Belgium, Australia, Canada and many others have acknowledged the problem by barring the wearing of hospital clothing outside the workplace.
In order to protect our valued health workers and their immediate families’ as well as the community and the general public from current and future contagious diseases .I respectfully suggest the creation of a policy to limit public exposure to hospital-based microorganisms through their uniform. For example if all nurses are made to wear the ‘scrub style’, wearing it to public places will be unattractive. In addition to the policy by our health experts I humbly put forward the following suggestions;
Firstly, most nurses bear the full cost of their own uniforms though I stand to be corrected, I believe the health ministry is supposed to provide them with uniforms. In view of the existing scarcity of uniforms the Ministry of Health should make uniforms available to all health workers by providing them with uniforms quarterly, yearly etc. free of charge.
Secondly. These uniforms should be made affordable to encourage patronage, for instance the ministry can make use of our own fabric, by partnering with indigenous textile companies to design a complete new uniform that suites our environment and culture to be produced in Ghana, by the various textile companies dotted around the country. More so, it appears the current uniform was left behind by our colonial masters.
Finally, the fact that the elimination of most microorganisms requires some level of high temperature and, considering that most Ghanaians rely on manual washing. The Ministry of Health should partner with the private sector to make laundry facilities available in all hospitals across the country, these facilities will not only take some stress off nurses and doctors, and provide them with clean uniforms daily but it will also create job opportunities for some unemployed youth.
God bless Ghana and keep us safe!