Top 10 Challenges Faced by Nurses in Uganda

 Top 10 Challenges Faced by Nurses in Uganda

The healthcare sector of Uganda has been plagued with a series of challenges and scandals. One of the key areas affected is the nursing department.

Nurses in Uganda face a series of challenges which undermine their day-to-day activities. These problems range from individuals to hospitals specifically to society as a whole.

From attending to patients' physical and emotional needs to the security and safety of nurses to societal attitudes towards them, Ugandan nurses faced the following  top 10 major challenges:

Top 10 Challenges Faced by Nurses in Uganda

1. Nurses are poorly paid

 Nurses in Uganda are among the lowest-paid jobs in the country. Most nurses earn a monthly UGX 561978.45 a month.

This salary is often very small to cover the basic needs of an average Ugandan such as housing, feeding, clothing, transportation and health. This often results in low morale at work and can result in high employee turnover at the workplace.

2. Poor working conditions

The second major challenge faced by nurses in Uganda is poor working conditions.  Most of the hospitals are understaffed, they are poorly equipped and unsanitary. The unsanitary environment can often put many Ugandan nurses at high risk of infections, which makes it very difficult for them to provide quality healthcare services to others.

3. Lack of professional development opportunities

Many nurses in Uganda lack the professional development opportunities to pursue higher education while working. This is due to their overloaded working hours which don’t allow the nurses to have extra time to pursue the career development path.

There are little or no training programs offered in the hospitals to enable the nurses to stay up to date with the latest practices regarding nursing care.

4. Limited access to Equipment/ supplies

Nurses are also posed with the challenge of limited access to supplies and equipment necessary for their day-to-day activities. Due to insufficient funds, most hospitals lack the necessary tools and equipment needed by their nurses to work.

Others are results of embezzlement of funds by officials. This often results in nurses not having the necessary reagents, chemicals, gloves etc. needed to do their work.

5. Low incentives

One major issue nurses in Uganda face is a lack of incentives. The motivation and job satisfaction of nurses may suffer from a lack of incentives. Lack of motivation or job satisfaction among nurses may increase their likelihood of leaving the field, which may be a factor in Uganda's nursing shortage.

6. High nurse-to-patient ratio

Many Ugandan nurses often face the challenge of few available nurses working or attending to a large proportion of patients in the hospitals. Due to the limited number of nurses in Uganda, nurses are therefore required to attend to a large number of patients in the hospital.

When a nurse is forced to attend to several numbers of patients at once, it can result in an increased risk of error committed. It can also result in to decrease in quality care services rendered by these nurses to the large population.

The high nurse-to-patient ratio can also increase the risk of infections among nurses and sometimes results in fatigue and burnout.

The need for more nurses in the workforce must be addressed to address the issue of high nurse-to-patient ratios in Uganda.

This can be accomplished by expanding the number of students admitted to nursing programs, offering scholarships and other financial inducements to entice students to pursue nursing careers, and simplifying the licensing process for nurses with international training in Uganda.

7. Long working hours

Many Ugandan nurses often look tired because of long working hours. An average Ugandan can sometimes be seen working a 12-hour shift.

These long working hours can often be associated with a limited number of nurses and insufficient funds to hire more nurses often results in the few working nurses working for long hours.

Long working hours often result in fatigue, and burnout and reduce the nurse's ability to concentrate and deliver effective services to patients.

The long working hours also often affect the social and personal lives of these nurses, as many find it hard to maintain and run their relationships and attend to proper family responsibilities.

8. Sexual harassment

Just like many other occupations in the world, the health sector is also facing the common issues of sexual harassment for both male and female nurses.

In Uganda, both male and female nurses are often harassed by patients and also by fellow work colleagues and supervisors.

A recent study conducted in 2019 shows that 44.0% of Uganda nurses have experienced sexual harassment while at the workplace.

Sexual harassment faced by many Ugandan nurses can be seen in the form of requests for sexual favours, sexual jokes, unwanted sexual advances etc.

Sexual harassment often affects nurses a lot, results in anxiety, stress, and depression, and often results in to lack of concentration at work which often affects the overall nursing profession and the performances of the nurses.

9. No clear job descriptions

Another top challenge faced by nurses in Uganda is the lack of clear work descriptions of the roles and responsibilities of a nurse.

Without a clear job description, many nurses will be unclear about their roles and responsibilities in a hospital which often confuses, and conflicts with other nurses and with their supervisors.

The lack of a clear job description for nurses often results in supervisors being unable to evaluate nurses' performances.

Hospital Management departments should create and implement clear and simple job descriptions for every nursing role to address the issue of the absence of job descriptions for nurses.

The duties, responsibilities, and requirements for each position should be clearly stated in these job descriptions.

10. Threats and intimidation

The last top challenges faced by Ugandan nurses are threats and intimidation of dismissals, death, arrest, or demotion by some key officials.

Nurses are often faced with verbal and physical abuse from patients and or their family members, who are unhappy with the care they are receiving. This is often stressful to these nurses and sometimes frightening.

Nurses may also face bullying and intimations from their colleagues or supervisors. This form of bullying can be based on their religious beliefs, personal lives, ethnicity and gender.

Lastly, nurses can also face threats and intimidation outside their workplace. This is often common with nurses working in rural areas who are often victims of bandits and thefts.

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