Monday, November 07, 2011

[Vital Signs Column] Nurses & RH

October 16-31, 2011 Issue
Vital Signs, is the FIRST newspaper for the medical community. It caters to doctors, health workers and other healthcare professionals, bringing them the latest health news, scientific updates, as well as opinions, and commentaries on current issues impacting healthcare delivery in the country. You can read Alvin Dakis' columns on nursing & social issues in every Vital Signs newspaper published every 1st & 15th of the month. 

The 2nd Millennium Convention of nurses hosted by the Alliance of Young Nurse Leaders & Advocates International was concluded this October 8-9, 2011 at Great Eastern Hotel in Quezon City that talked about the role of nurses in reproductive & sexual health. Reproductive & sexual health nursing is an old practice of nurses but was not given proper attention nor elevated in specialty practice. The convention gave that emphasis & opened a more promising field of expertise for Filipino nurses.

Nurses have been quiet in the issue of reproductive & sexual health here in Philippines but having to witness a lot of inequity in accessing to such services, early & unplanned pregnancies, contracting of sexually-transmitted diseases such as HIV & AIDS and even on seeing clients with many inaccurate information regarding their reproductive & sexual health. 

The convention talked about how nurses can practice in reproductive & sexual health and the impact each nurse makes in the community if he or she educates. But how can nurses really work in this field?

Service Providers nurses are service providers having to provide family planning & reproductive health services to individuals & couples. Nurses can provide FP services like injectables and to some extent, prescription of medicines related to their patient's conditions. Nurses in the US operate their own nurse-led clinics and prescribe medications to their patients.

Educators - one of the expertise of nurses is to become health educators in many areas such as schools, communities and clinical settings. In providing health education covering reproductive & sexual health, it is necessary that nurses should be trained in handling very sensitive information of their clients, provide gender-sensitive and rights-based responses. In this aspect, I believe that nurses should undergo a post-graduate training on gender, population & development.

Counselling - now this avenue is good only when nurses are trained how to communicate well with their clients especially talking to young people. Nurses handling clients undergoing special counselling needs such as those newly-diagnosed with HIV should also receive peer education and pre & post test counselling training. Nurses handling such cases should also be able to provide an enabling environment for their clients to trust them and for nurses to maintain their integrity in their professional relationships with their clients.

Research - nurses in reproductive & sexual health would need to venture into research as well since many of the fields in this need scientific data gathering to monitor the progress of each individual's case. 

Many conservative nurses might find providing these services unethical or some might refuse giving these services. Ethical standards in nursing practice have been delineated by the Code of Ethics for Filipino Nurses by the Philippine Board of Nursing. 

The Code of Ethics Article 2 Section 4 states that nurses should respect individual's values, customs and spiritual beliefs and that individual freedom to make rational and unconstrained decisions shall also be respected by nurses. For an individual to make sound, rational, and unconstrained decisions, the nurse should provide unbiased and complete information about what the patient will undergo and what the patient should know about his/her condition. It is the role of the nurse to provide age-appropriate & taking into consideration the level of comprehension of his/her client to optimize transfer of information.

Nurses may venture into organizing RH clinics/centers where they are the ones managing and rendering services. Nurses may also form counselling centers for clients that needed it. Nurses may become health educators in schools and companies. There are avenues for nurses in reproductive & sexual health practice. 

There are a lot of women dying from childbirth complications, many early & unplanned pregnancies, many people needing appropriate sexuality education especially to young people, many people getting sick and contracts HIV without them knowing it, many people do not know how to space their children and how to plan for their families, many young people do now know their sexuality & remain confuse, and many people are still thinking like they are in the dark ages. There are many rooms for nurses to do in the communities.

By the way, I would like to thank all our beloved speakers who shared their time & expertise in the convention. I would like to thank Drs. Esperanza Cabral and Sylvia Claudio, Rep. Risa Hontiveros, Ms. Elizabeth Angsioco and Ms. Grace Stanley who selflessly shared their knowledge and helped cleared questions about nurses giving reproductive & sexual health services. Thank you, thank you!

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