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Enhancing Nursing Services With Higher Wages, Perks

Last year the minimum monthly salary of nurses was increased to $500 (20 million rials), more than double the minimum wage, which currently is $230 (9.3 million rials) per month
The average nurse-patient ratio stands at 1.5 per 1,000 and should at least double.The average nurse-patient ratio stands at 1.5 per 1,000 and should at least double.

International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world on May 12 every year. The theme for 2017 is Nursing: A Voice to Lead, Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

With an aim to realize the SDG 3 (2030 Agenda), last year (ended March 20) the minimum monthly salary of nurses was increased to $500 (20 million rials), more than double the minimum wage, which currently is $230 (9.3 million rials) per month, said Mohammad Mirza Beigi, deputy for nursing affairs at the Health Ministry.

The United Nations SDG 3 aims to ensure healthy lives and promote the wellbeing for all in all age groups. The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged member states to develop strategies to strengthen the capacity of their nursing workforce.

 “Before implementation of the 2014 Health Reform Plan, the share of non-physician staff in hospitals was only 22.5% which increased to 27% in second half of last year,” Mirza Beigi said, adding that policies have been developed to increase nursing staff in hospitals and enhance the quality of healthcare services.  

Earlier on May 2, he said due to the stressful tasks of nurses working in burns and psychiatric wards of hospitals, their number will triple in the first half of the current year. “Burns care and psychiatric nurses will receive higher salary this year.”

  Home Nursing

In January 2017, under a new bill passed by the Majlis (parliament), in-home nursing care provided by registered nurses was also recognized as official with all the benefits of full-time employment.

But on Saturday, Mohammad Sharifi Moqaddam, deputy head of Iranian Nursing Organization said, “Although the bill has been passed, unfortunately the plan has not been implemented as insurance organizations have refused to pay for some in-home nursing services.”

Insurance organizations believe some services like administering injections can be performed at much lower costs in hospitals, he said, adding that, “however in-home nursing services can greatly contribute to public health.”

The INO says in-home nursing care has potential to create jobs for 300,000 nurses.

Referring to ICU beds, he said at times the intensive care beds are occupied by patients who can easily receive medical treatment at home. “ICU beds are costly and can put a heavy financial burden on the health sector.”

Homecare can reduce hospitalization costs. “Patients are also less likely to get hospital-acquired infections,” he said, urging the Health Ministry to address the problem.

Based on 2016 official data, the average nurse-patient ratio stands at 1.5 per 1,000 and should at least double in order to achieve the minimum standards of nursing care. At present, there is a deficit of 140,000 nurses in hospitals across the country. More than 7,000 hospital beds have been added in the past four years, 2,000 in the last fiscal (ended March 20).

  Other Measures

Other measures taken to address the issue of shortage of nursing staff in hospitals include doubling the number of seats at medical universities for nursing students from 6,000 in 2014 to 12,000 in 2016.

Recruitment of 7,500 final-year nursing students as well as providing them with the opportunity to continue working in the same hospital after graduation was also another measure taken in the previous year.

In February, Ali Dadgari, director of the Health Ministry’s Nursing Department had said that nursing has become one of the five most wanted majors in the country. “In the past 10 years it was one of the 30 most wanted fields, but now it has jumped to the top ten bracket.”

According to the WHO, about 48% of its member states have announced they have inadequate nursing workforce. The graying population in many of the world’s countries has increased demand for nursing services.

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