994 Occupational health nursing challenges in developing countries: the case of zimbabwe

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IntroductionThe field of occupational health nursing is poorly developed in Zimbabwe. This is evidenced by lack of trained professionals and grossly limited occupational health nursing services in the country. This is against a background of high work activity in the mining and agricultural sectors that pose significant occupational health and safety risks. Lack of adequate and comprehensive occupational health nursing services compromises the health and safety of most workers in the work environment.MethodsA cross sectional survey was carried out in major mining companies in Zimbabwe. A telephonic survey was carried out amongst ten nurses in these mining companies to ascertain the main challenges faced by the nurses working in these mines.ResultsAll the nurses noted lack of recognition of occupational health qualifications by the nursing council as a major hindrance in the development and practice of occupational health nursing. Lack of educational institutions offering diploma or degree courses in occupational health nursing was highlighted by all the survey participants as one of the major challenges. Eighty per cent of the nurses noted the most doctors manning the mine clinics did not have a qualification in occupational health thereby presenting difficulties in running the occupational health clinics.ConclusionCapacitation of occupational health nurses with occupational health training in Zimbabwe remains key. In addition, it is of paramount significance for regulatory bodies like the Nurses Council to embrace and recognise the discipline of occupational health nursing. Recognition of occupational health nursing by regulatory bodies in the country has the capacity of stimulating the growth and maturation of the field of occupational health. Technical assistance in this field critically needed in order to develop the occupational health human capital in this field.

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