SHARJAH // Head teachers in the northern Emirates are demanding more school nurses to tackle swine flu. Heads who met in Ajman told officials that they were ready to implement the national strategy to combat the H1N1 virus but faced a shortage of nurses, with many schools sharing just one.
"We need at least one nurse in every school. We can't keep on waiting for a nurse to come from another school when we have an emergency at our school," one head teacher said in the meeting at Aisha bint Abdullah School. Musa al Gharib, the head of Ajman Education Zone, told the heads that the Ministry of Health had been informed about the shortage of nurses and it was awaiting a response. In Ras al Khaimah, Abdullah Rashid al Nuaimi, a businessman, said he would donate Dh100,000 (US$27,000) to the ministry to fund the recruitment of more trained nurses in schools.
The pledge was made during a radio show, broadcast live from Mr al Nuaimi's home, after a member of the audience asked if the country had enough nurses in schools to deal with swine flu. Dr Ali bin Shakar, the director general of the Ministry of Health and chairman of the national committee to combat swine flu, who was one of the guests on the show, replied: "We have a shortage of nurses in the schools but the Government is now working to rectify this problem.
"We are already training several nurses on intensive courses and they will be recruited into the schools this academic year." Abdul Wahab al Wahhabi, a member of the head teachers section of the Ras al Khaimah committee to combat swine flu, who was also present, said the recruitment of more nurses in schools was a priority, especially in the northern Emirates. It was no longer viable for schools to share nurses amid a pandemic, he added.
On the sidelines of a swine flu training session organised by Sharjah Medical Zone, its head, Sheikh Mohammed bin Saqr Al Qassimi, said there were 79 nurses in the emirate covering 118 schools that accommodated 29,000 pupils. "The nurses have been distributed by the capacity of students per school," he said. "No school nurse has been overloaded. For cases where a nurse has to attend to two schools, it has been planned that the schools are in close proximity."
The training session, attended by more than 500 school staff at Sharjah Cultural Palace, was aimed at instructing them on how to deal with swine flu over the academic year. Fauzia al Gharib, the director of Sharjah Education Zone, told the staff that there was at least one room in each school that could be used to isolate a child who was thought to have H1N1, ahead of the pupil being treated by a nurse.