Trainees of the Tamale Community Health Nurses Training School (TCHNTS) lacked knowledge in some key health areas thus making them partially prepared to work at the various heath posts, a 2010 study conducted by the school, has revealed.
The study also identified deficiencies in the work of Community Health Officers (CHO) in their areas of competence including safe delivery, management of common ailments, disease surveillance, collection and analysis of routine data as well as report writing.
This was made known at a gathering in Tamale on Monday to disseminate and discuss the findings.
The study titled: “Evaluating the Relevance and Effectiveness of the CHNT in preparing CHN graduates for the Community-based Health and Planning Service”, was financed by the Netherlands Development Organization with technical support from the UNFPA.
Madam Juliet Atinga, Principal of CHNT, giving an overview of the study said the study sought to establish factors that militate against the performance of CHO at the community level.
She said that the study employed a qualitative survey methodology with a combination of semi-structure interviews and questionnaire for graduate students working at CHPS, Officials of Ghana Health Service, Supervisors of CHPS and staff of CHNT in four districts in the region.
On steps to help the graduates to be productive, she said, the study recommended that the current curricula should be expanded to cover some of the community expectations, especially in the areas of safe delivery and curative nursing.
Madam Atinga said the study recommended that the CHPS compounds should be expanded to contain students during their practical training and proposed that the school authorities should collaborate with the GHS to frequently provide in-service training for tutors of the school to upgrade their knowledge and to abreast of current issues on health.
It also called on the school authorities to urgently act on the reports that supervisors at the CHPS facilities write about students who undertake practical training in their area.
Dr. Akwasi Twumasi, the Northern Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), said there was the need to develop nursing models that would be at par with modern trends.
He said there should be a strong collaboration between theoretical and practical work to ensure that CHO were well prepared to contribute meaningfully to solving the health challenges of the Northern Region.
Dr Twumasi expressed worry that despite improvements in the healthcare facilities, there were inadequate personnel to man these facilities.
He noted that in the face of improvements in the various healthcare delivery institutions in the region, maternal mortality was still a major problem, with 81 maternal deaths in 2010 as against 96 in 2009.
Improving maternal health is a Millennium Development Goal five, with a global target to reduce the maternal mortality ration by three quarters by 2015.
Statistics from the 2008 Ghana Millennium Development Goal Report 2010 indicates that the country attained 56 per cent in 2008 and hopes to achieve a 100 per cent by 2015.
Dr. Robert Mensah Reproductive Health Specialist at UNFPA said among the critical roles of CHO’s were the provision of family planning; school health; focused ante-natal care and HIV/AIDS/STI prevention and management services among others which fell within the mandate of UNFPA.
“UNFPA has over the years contributed towards raising the health status of Ghanaians by supporting various programme interventions of the Ghana Health Service, among them is the campaign to end obstetric fistula,” he said.
Mr. Alhassan Issahaku Amadu, Zangbalung Bomahe-Naa, said the fading role of ethical nursing education had been observed in several circumstances which needed to be checked.
He said the desires of patients continued to change and called for modifications in the training methodology to enable graduates appreciate current trends in the profession.