Monday, July 22, 2024

Nursing Ethics and Practices in the Nigerian Context

Last Updated on August 2, 2023


Nursing ethics is the foundation of the nursing profession, guiding nurses in delivering compassionate and ethical care to patients.

In the Nigerian context, nursing ethics hold great significance. Adhering to ethical principles ensures the provision of safe and quality healthcare services.

One of the key reasons nursing ethics are important in Nigeria is the need to maintain patient trust and confidence.

By practicing ethically, nurses establish a rapport with patients, promoting a therapeutic relationship. This relationship is crucial for effective care delivery and patient satisfaction.

Additionally, nursing ethics helps in navigating complex ethical dilemmas. Nurses often encounter difficult situations that require ethical decision-making.

By being well-versed in ethical principles, Nigerian nurses can make informed choices that prioritize the best interests of their patients.

The aim of this blog post is to shed light on the various aspects of nursing ethics in the Nigerian context.

It will explore the ethical principles that nurses must adhere to, such as beneficence, non-maleficence, and respect for autonomy.

Furthermore, it will discuss the ethical challenges faced by nurses in Nigeria, such as resource scarcity and cultural considerations. Essentially, nursing ethics are of utmost importance in the Nigerian context.

They guide nurses in delivering compassionate care, maintaining patient trust, and making ethical decisions.

By promoting ethical practices, the nursing profession in Nigeria can ensure the highest standard of healthcare for its population.

Historic Overview of Nursing Ethics in Nigeria

Introduction to nursing in Nigeria

Nursing in Nigeria has a rich history, dating back to the colonial era, and has evolved significantly over the years.

During their early years of practice, Nigerian nurses encountered various ethical challenges. To address these issues, ethical codes and guidelines were developed over time.

Early ethical challenges faced by Nigerian nurses

The Nigerian Nursing and Midwifery Council (NNMC) established a comprehensive Code of Conduct, aiming to standardize ethical behavior among nurses in the country.

Additionally, Nigerian nurses adhere to the International Council of Nurses (ICN) Code of Ethics, which provides universal ethical principles for the profession.

Development of ethical codes and guidelines

Over time, ethical codes and guidelines were developed to address these challenges.

  • Nigerian Nursing and Midwifery Council (NNMC) Code of Conduct

The NNMC created a Code of Conduct to standardize ethical behavior among Nigerian nurses.

  • International Council of Nurses (ICN) Code of Ethics for Nurses

Nigerian nurses also abide by the ICN Code of Ethics, providing universal ethical principles.

These codes and guidelines have played a crucial role in shaping nursing ethics and practices in Nigeria.

They ensure that nurses uphold high standards of care, professionalism, and compassion in their day-to-day responsibilities, ultimately contributing to the betterment of healthcare services in the nation.

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Current Ethical Issues in Nursing Practice in Nigeria

Nurse-patient relationship and confidentiality

  • Building trust and maintaining patient privacy

  • Challenges in maintaining confidentiality in a tight-knit community

In the Nigerian context, nurses face several ethical challenges related to the nurse-patient relationship and confidentiality. Building trust is essential to providing effective care.

Nurses must establish trust with their patients, ensuring they feel comfortable sharing their personal information and concerns.

Maintaining patient privacy is another crucial aspect of nursing ethics in Nigeria.

However, this can be challenging in tight-knit communities where everyone knows each other. Nurses need to find ways to protect patients’ privacy while respecting community values and opinions.

Ethical considerations in resource-limited settings

  • Allocating limited resources among patients

  • Challenges in obtaining necessary medical supplies and equipment

Resource limitations pose significant ethical challenges for nurses in Nigeria. With limited resources, nurses often face the difficult task of allocating those resources among numerous patients.

This requires making ethical decisions about which patients receive priority and ensuring fairness in distribution.

Add to this the challenges in obtaining necessary medical supplies and equipment. In a resource-limited setting, nurses may struggle to provide adequate care due to a lack of essential supplies.

These ethical considerations further add to the complexity of nursing practice in Nigeria.

Ethical challenges related to cultural norms and beliefs

  • Balancing cultural practices and patient autonomy

  • Handling conflicts between medical recommendations and cultural values

Cultural norms and beliefs play a significant role in Nigerian society, impacting nursing ethics. Nurses face the challenge of balancing cultural practices with patient autonomy.

While respecting patients’ cultural beliefs, nurses must ensure patients have the autonomy to make informed decisions about their care.

Conflicts may arise between medical recommendations rooted in evidence-based practice and cultural values.

Nurses must navigate these conflicts delicately, respecting patients’ cultural beliefs while prioritizing their health and well-being.

Overall, nursing ethics in the Nigerian context involve various current ethical issues.

Nurses must navigate the challenges of building trust, maintaining patient confidentiality, and addressing cultural and resource limitations.

By addressing these issues, nurses can ensure ethical and holistic care for their patients.

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Nursing Ethics and Practices in the Nigerian Context

Regulatory Measures and Ethical Guidelines

Role of the Nigerian Nursing and Midwifery Council (NNMC)

  • Setting ethical standards is one of the primary responsibilities of the NNMC.

  • The NNMC is responsible for licensing nurses and implementing disciplinary measures.

Adoption of International Ethical Guidelines

  • Aligning with global standards brings several advantages to nursing practices in Nigeria.

Nursing ethics and practices in Nigeria are overseen by the Nigerian Nursing and Midwifery Council (NNMC).

The NNMC plays a vital role in setting ethical standards, ensuring quality care, and promoting professionalism among nurses and midwives.

Their primary responsibility is establishing and enforcing ethical standards nationwide, guiding nursing practices and prioritizing patient welfare and safety.

The NNMC also handles licensing to ensure only qualified individuals practice nursing, protecting the public from unqualified practitioners and maintaining professional integrity.

Enforcement of disciplinary measures for ethical violations is also part of their role, upholding ethical standards and credibility.

Nigeria embraces global ethical guidelines, aligning with international standards to enhance patient care, professional reputation, and global collaboration.

Implementing international ethical guidelines may face challenges, such as language and cultural barriers, and varying healthcare systems.

Collaborative efforts between NNMC, nursing associations, and educational institutions are crucial to developing context-specific strategies for effective implementation.

The NNMC’s role in regulating nursing ethics and practices is pivotal, ensuring safe, ethical, and quality nursing care in Nigeria.

Adopting international ethical guidelines further enhances nursing practices, despite the challenges that require addressing.

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Strategies for Promoting Ethical Nursing Practice in Nigeria

Continuous education and training

  • Updating nurses on ethical guidelines and current practices.

  • Ethical dilemma workshops and discussions.

Enhancing professional networking and collaboration

  • Establishing nursing societies and associations.

  • Sharing experiences and best practices.

Advocacy for policy changes and improvements

  • Collaboration with policymakers and regulatory bodies.

  • Identifying gaps in the healthcare system and proposing solutions.

Read: Nursing and the Future of Healthcare in Nigeria


In review, nursing ethics play a critical role in the Nigerian healthcare system. It ensures the delivery of quality care, maintains trust between patients and healthcare professionals, and protects the dignity and welfare of patients.

Nurses have a moral obligation to adhere to ethical principles and standards in their practice. As healthcare professionals, nurses need to actively uphold ethical practices, including autonomy, beneficence, and non-maleficence.

They should prioritize patient well-being, acting in their best interests and ensuring their rights are respected.

Nurses should also value respect, honesty, and integrity, treating all patients with fairness and without discrimination.

The future of nursing ethics in Nigeria relies on the commitment and dedication of nurses to maintain ethical standards.

The nursing profession needs to ensure continuous education and training on ethical practices, equipping nurses with the knowledge and skills necessary to make ethical decisions in complex situations.

Additionally, there is a need for regulatory bodies and the government to enforce ethical guidelines and provide support to nurses in upholding ethical practices.

Adequate resources, including staffing, facilities, and equipment, should be provided to enable nurses to deliver ethical care effectively.

By prioritizing nursing ethics and practicing with integrity, Nigerian nurses can contribute to an improved healthcare system that values patient-centered care, respects patients’ rights, and maintains professional standards.

Together, nurses can create a culture of ethical excellence in the Nigerian healthcare context, benefiting both patients and the nursing profession as a whole.

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