Nursing in low resource settings can be challenging and delivering care during the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted this. Nurses globally have played a frontline role in managing the crisis. The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) International Nursing Community of Interest (COI) recently hosted a webinar highlighting the role of one organisation in responding to the crisis ‘Nursing in Low Resource Settings During COVID-19: Perspectives from MSF’. Melissa Hozjan MACN, a member of the International Nursing COI Leadership Team and Paediatric Nursing Advisor with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), shared her experiences with the ACN community.
MSF is an international humanitarian medical organization with projects in over 70 countries worldwide. Nurses have varying roles within the organization, from bedside nursing to operational directors. Globally, there is considerable variation around nursing regulation of practice, education and training. Melissa explained the type of resources that are available to support nurses in a range of activities and contexts.
As COVID-19 continues to spread worldwide, MSF is working to ensure continuous care for all patients in existing projects whilst preparing medical teams to manage cases of the virus. Unique challenges exist in low resource settings including vulnerable populations, overcrowding, unhygienic environments, and poor access to health care for many populations and communities. This precarious situation has been compounded by challenges that have been experienced in many countries, with shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), limited access to testing and a lack of health care facilities required for escalation of care.
Previous examples of outbreak management highlight how nurses can learn from these epidemics including ebola in Liberia, cholera in Ethiopia and measles in Samoa. Examples of MSF COVID-19 interventions from Yemen, Bangladesh and Haiti were presented, each highlighting a different context and population. In each scenario, there were challenges with lack of human resources, disruption in regular supply chains due to travel restrictions, limitations in the provision of oxygen, oxygen delivery and monitoring.
ACN’s International Nursing COI hopes to build a community of nurses with an interest in global health care, nursing across cultures and working within multicultural teams. If this is an area you are interested in, head to the ACN website to join our community of International Nurses. Stay tuned for more webinars from the International Nursing COI on a range of topics in this area!