President Yoweri Museveni has urged nurses and midwives to assist in the information dissemination on the risks of epidemics and pandemics.
The President made the remarks in a speech read for him by Vice President Jessica Alupo on Thursday afternoon as delegates, leaders and representatives of different nursing and midwifery institutions in Uganda gathered in Kampala to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council (UNMC), a body enacted by an Act of Parliament in 1996.
The day was commemorated under the theme: "Celebrating 100 years of Uganda Nurses and midwives Regulation, Past, Present, Future".
The council, which is the first health professional regulatory body in Uganda, is mandated with protecting the public from unsafe nursing and midwifery practices and, ensuring the quality of their services, among others.
A line from the nurses' anthem re-affirms their duties; "Chosen by God to serve".
President Museveni commended the nurses and midwives for the 100-year milestone, calling this
a highlight of the dedicated service that the entire medical fraternity has been offering.
The President said that their efforts in making health care accessible and of quality is commendable with great performance over the years.
According to statistics, there are 69,800 nurses and 30,364 midwives registered to practice with 1,129
maternity and nursing homes/clinics registered and licensed to offer nursing and maternity services.
President Museveni also thanked the Ministry of Health for its oversight role, and the particular symbiotic relationship of great progress showed over the years, working together through "raising our banner in the region and on the international scene in regard to the standard of Nursing and Midwifery," the President said.
According to the President, Uganda nurses and midwives are desired in many countries and have offered excellent service over the globe.
The President said that while there was insecurity and in the past and limited resource envelop, hindering smooth health service delivery, nurses have been displaying dedication and the will to save life.
"We saw you working tooth and nail, risking your lives to redeem the lives of your brothers and sisters during the tough period of the second Covid-19 wave and you are doing so again now with the recent Ebola outbreak because the role you play puts you at stake as frontline workers, risking your lives on a daily basis," he said.
He cautioned them on absenteeism, tracking, and dealing with fraudsters in the profession and the few that neglect patients.
On their contribution to the sector, the President gave critical country indicators saying
•60% of pregnant women today are able to attain the requisite antenatal care visits from 48% in 2011)
•the 73% of child births that are attended to by skilled health professionals
•the reduced maternal mortality ratio at 336 from 438/100,000 in 2011 and 524/100,000 in 2000
• the reduced infant mortality rate at 43/1,000 from 54/1000 live births in 2011
•reduced under five mortality at 64 from 90/1000 live births in 2011
•and the increased patient satisfaction in health facilities at 79%.
With these, the President said Uganda’s hope of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals come 2030 has increased.
He urged them to tap into the opportunities of Operation Wealth Creation and the Parish Development Model.
In a relatable interlude given earlier, Vice President Alupo reminisced on her relationship with the profession.
"I was born by a midwife, grew up under the care of a midwife, and raised by a midwife; my mother, so I hope you all in great esteem," she said.
She congratulated Jane Aceng, the health sector for the achievements that the sector has made.
The Vice President said midwives and nurses are a very important group in the development of Uganda. "You are a very critical category of workers with a very strong link to doctors, and you make their work easier and simpler. As Government, we owe you because the work you have done is immense. We value you,"she said.
Alupo reflected on their anthem "chosen by God" saying as leaders, they are also chosen by God who not discriminate on any basis of tribe, age, or sex.
"While you are civil servants and therefore nonpartisan, I wanted to tell you that as a family of God, President Museveni who as a leader is chosen by God, is still with us in 2026 and beyond".
Dr. Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health, said the event was a key milestone in the Ministry because nurses and midwives are the biggest backbones of the health sector across the entire health care from communities to the facilities.
"We have opened up the practice up to the highest levels," she said, adding that in order to fill existing gaps, the Ministry in conjunction with Public service, health has expanded and put positions for new and upcoming specialties.
"Therefore, for all competently trained nurses and midwives, there will be a position".
She called for discipline in the profession and practice, urging them to avoid absenteeism, and develop positive attitudes so that enhanced salaries can be seen in their work.
The Minister challenged them to take note of the issue of drug theft, a vice she said, had been noted among health workers.
"If we are to address the quality of health care, we must address the vices of drug theft".
The Chairperson of the UNMSC board Elizabeth Namukombe Ekong said thanked the entire leadership since its establishment from the colonial times, passing on the mantle to Jesse Walusimbi (RiP) who received the mantle in 1967 and successfully passed it on.
Her family was present to honor their mother.
The Governing Council, she said, ensures that the Institutional mission is in tandem with the development of vision 2040, and has since embarked on the generation and dissemination of evidence to inform the development and review of standards. She also said that the council occasionally extends seed grants for research to its members.
The Uganda Country Representative-UNFPA, represented by Dr. Moses Warakira said the event was an opportune moment to reflect on the important work done to ensure that a strong health workforce is built.
Warakira noted that because of efforts by the Government of Uganda, there has been an improvement in some indicators, highlighting that seven out of 10 mothers now deliver with the assistance of a skilled birth attendant, usually a midwife".
Among the achievements of the council is a designed comprehensive midwifery program focused on improving the quality and availability of midwifery education, an efficient Geographic information system that provides timely data on all nurses and midwives in the country.