By Emmanuel Donatus, Jos

The Catholic Nurses Guild of Nigeria (CNGN) has held the 32nd edition of its annual national conference in Jos, the Plateau State capital with the theme “Inclusive Healthcare: A Resource for Sustainable Post-Covid-19 Recovery and Agenda 2030.” The conference which took place from the 18 to 23 October, 2021 was held at St. Louise College Jos.

In a homily at the opening Mass, the Metropolitan of Jos Ecclesiastical Province and the Archbishop of Jos, Most Rev. Matthew Ishaya Audu urged the participants to be watchful so as to recognize the Lord in others. He reminded the nurses that God who has given them talents will surely ask for an account of those talents, and “those who are faithful with their talent and use it to yield good fruits will be rewarded, while those who abuse their talent will be punished, each according to their deeds.” According to him, “as nurses, more so as Catholic nurses, you should adhere to the ethics of your profession, and never be found wanting when the need arises. Your call is to care for the sick, and you must do so with all your heart as Jesus would want you to, or would have done if he were in your place.”

Making reference to the choice of the theme, the National President of CNGN, Mr. Anthony Oluwafemi Adetoro noted that Covid-19 came unexpectedly, and it has revealed the situation of our healthcare system in Nigeria. He observed that “the devastating effect is what we are still struggling with, and are yet to recover, so Covid-19 is not gone. Covid-19 is real, though some people doubt it, but the after-effect is what our discussion is centred on, especially as it relates to us as a nation, as a Church, and as individuals.” The President thanked the good people of Jos for their hospitality and warm reception.

Members of the National Exco and Archbishop Audu in a group photograph

In a similar vein, the Secretary of the International Catholic Committee of Nurses and Social Medical Assistants (CICIAMS), Mr. Donatus Matthew Akpan decried the poor state of health facilities and lack of access to proper healthcare by citizens in Nigeria. He observed that “health services is a social issue, health services is a right of the citizens, and provision of health services is a fundamental responsibility of the government, but considering the state of affairs in Nigeria, the Nigerian Government has failed the people.” Speaking further, he pointed out that health services in other countries are free, whenever and wherever you want to, but in Nigeria, the case is different. “Here, the rich man and his family will fly abroad for treatment when they are sick, whereas the poor will stay here and be managed by a hospital that is poorly equipped.” He therefore called on government to stop turning deaf ears to the plight of the people, and prayed God to touch the heart of leaders for the good of the people.

A cross section of some participants at the conference

A major highlight of the conference was the launching of ‘Voice of Catholic Nurses of Nigeria’ (VOCANON), a magazine initiative of the association. The President of CNGN, Jos Archdiocese and the Editor-in-Chief of the newly launched magazine, Mrs. Joyce Asufi stated that VOCANON is like a health journal written by erudite nurses from all over Nigeria. She affirmed that “it is recommended for everyone because it is rich and its contents are not limited to health issues alone, but global issues, the church, and other contemporary issues are also highlighted and can serve as a reference material for scholars and all who wish to increase their knowledge base.”

The annual conference of the CNGN provides an avenue for Catholic nurses from across the country, to come together to brainstorm on issues relating to the Church and other contemporary issues.  As partakers in the healing ministry of Christ, they are expected to “let others see Christ in them through their works.” This year’s conference featured paper presentations from various scholars, Gala night, presentation of certificates and awards, a visit to Saint Augustine Major Seminary Jos, among others.