Somoe Mohammed, the social media savvy nurse at the University of Dar es Salaam Health Centre
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared 2020 the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife" to acknowledge the crucial role that nurses play in healthcare worldwide. As part of this, WHO released the State of the World's Nursing 2020 report, which recognizes that nurses are the largest occupational group in the health sector, accounting for 59% of the health profession. They form the largest portion of frontline health workers in the fight against the raging pandemic. Nurses globally are risking their lives and the lives of their loved ones to care for those who are sick.
Nonetheless, it is International Nurses week and nurses worldwide have several reasons to celebrate, regardless of prevailing circumstances. Most nurses around the world are busy in communities, wards, critical care units and nursing homes, either taking care of COVID-19 patients or treating non-COVID-related illnesses. This is certainly the case with Somoe Khalfan Mohammed, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing student at the Aga Khan School of Nursing and Midwifery based in Tanzania and a nurse at the University of Dar es Salaam Health Centre. She is also a volunteer for the Women Action Towards Economic Development and a strong advocate for women's rights.
As part of a small group of nurses taking care of COVID-19 patients, Somoe formed a dedicated social media page to provide her peers with updates and guidelines on how to handle the virus based on information from the Tanzanian government and other trusted sources. She goes as far as developing videos to demonstrate best practices on how to protect oneself from the virus. We spoke to Somoe about her experience in dealing with the pandemic in the Health Centre, her motivation behind providing accurate updates to fellow nurses and her message to nurses for the International Nurses Day.
What makes you happy to be a nurse?
My motivation is to help people. I am inspired by people's faith during difficult times, and as a nurse, I like to help them overcome these difficulties.
Also, after receiving my diploma in nursing in 2016, I decided that apart from clinical practice, I would like to teach pre-service nursing students. I completed a teaching methodology course and worked at a training institute for health sciences as an instructor. Since then, I have combined teaching and nursing where I work as a nurse but also provide coaching to novice nurses, even at my current workplace. My vision is to bring positive patient outcomes and inspire other nurses to deliver safe and quality healthcare in Tanzania.
What is your role in the Health Centre at this time?
I was one of five nurse volunteers at the University of Dar es Salaam Health Centre who was given the responsibility of handling the effective screening, isolation, and nursing of the patients deemed to have contracted the virus. My team handles suspected patients from the customer care desk to screening and into isolation.
Why post COVID-19 updates on social media?
Social media interactions have injected our society with misinformation and terrifying news about the pandemic, causing everyone to be afraid, including health workers. This fear leads to the stigma against those who are infected or those who are suspected to have been infected, causing healthcare providers to neglect infected patients. This is why I decided to open an Instagram page targeting nurses who work with infected patients. I felt there was a need to continue updating nurses on what is going on in our country and remind them that as frontline workers, we need to follow government directives and our professional guidelines to prevent infection.
I understand that caring for COVID-19 patients is a lot of pressure sometimes, but the world needs nurses now more than ever. We need to have a positive attitude, try our best to be prepared for anything and deal with whatever comes our way. It is very hard at first, but with time and experience, we learn how to deliver better care in these times to ensure our patients get the healthcare they need.
Any message for nurses during the International Nurses week?
As nurses, especially now, we deal with stigma, misinformation, uncooperative patients, risk of infection, lack of training, fatigue and many other issues. I recently dealt with a faulty COVID-19 screening tool which was producing false-positive results. We deal with a lot that many people do not know about. However, we should continue learning from trusted sources, ensuring teamwork among nurses, maintaining a positive attitude and reassuring our patients. It is our vital role to help those in need and make their lives better. We are here to help patients heal their bodies, minds and souls, and in doing so we change lives. Because of our work, people do not give up hope. Let us continue to be the change that we want to see in the world. Happy International Nurses Day from the frontline!