The World Health Assembly has designated 2020 as the year of nurses and midwives. A year-long effort to celebrate the work of Nurses and Midwives, highlight the challenging conditions they often face and advocate for increased investments in the nursing and midwifery workforce. In Namibia, nurses and midwives makes up the largest number of healthcare professionals and in some health facilities across the country, only nurses and midwives are found. On May 12th each year, the world celebrates the International Nurses Day. This year, the day is celebrated in recognition of the birth and the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing who was also known as the lady of the lamp. Nightingale was known as the lady of the lamp because of the role she played to improve the lives of soldiers during that time.
This year, the International Nurses Day is celebrated under the theme: Nurses: A Voice to Lead - Nursing the World to Health. The voice of nursing need to be heard around the globe, to spread the word about our great profession and how it contributes to the wellbeing of the world. As carers, healers, educators, leaders and advocates, nurses are fundamental in the provision of safe, accessible and affordable care. There are more than 20 million nurses across the world and each one of them has a story to tell. Nurses know about hope and courage, joy and despair, pain and suffering, and life and death. Did you know that nurses and midwives are with you at every step of your life? As an ever-present force for good, midwives hear the first cries of newborn babies and nurses witness the last breaths of the dying. They are present at some of life’s most precious moments, and at some of its most tragic. Nurses serve humanity and by their actions, they protect the health and wellbeing of individuals, communities and nations. Indeed, nurses make a central contribution to national and global targets related to a range of health priorities such as; universal health coverage, mental health and non-communicable diseases, emergency preparedness and response, patient safety, and the delivery of integrated, people-centered care.
For the first time in the history of nursing, the World Health Organisation in collaboration with partners launched “The state of the World’s Nursing report” in April 2020. The report highlights that nurses are critical to deliver on the promise of “leaving no one behind” and the global effort to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and concludes with a call to member states to commit and look into policy options for an agenda to strengthen the nursing workforce, improve health for all, and strengthen the primary health care workforce on the journey towards universal health coverage.
The year 2020 was planned to raise the status and profile of nurses and midwives, and to highlight that the world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives if it is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030 and therefore to encourage global movement investment in the nursing and midwifery professions. The Covid-19 global pandemic has certainly seen nurses on the forefront and working tirelessly to render respectful treatment and quality nursing care. Thus, no global health agenda can be realised without the combined and sustained efforts to maximise the contributions of the nursing workforce and their roles within multi-disciplinary health teams. Consequently, without nurses and midwives, there would be no response to this deadly pandemic and that calls on everyone in the world to respect the work for nurses and midwives!
During this year of nurses and midwives and post Covid-19, we must engage in closer dialogues with our government and all relevant sectors to strengthen the workforce to better provide primary care and progress towards universal health coverage. Nurses and midwives need decent and safe work environments, fair remuneration in accordance with qualifications, retention of the nursing workforce and most importantly building capacity in leadership for the young professionals.
As nurses celebrate the International Nurses Day, I call on the public to continue supporting and respecting their work. Nurses are the hearts of the health care system. To all the nurses, your contemplation and perseverance are reflected in the work you do. You are indeed extraordinary. Happy International Nurses Day
*Tekla Shiindi-Mbidi is a Young Midwife Leader and a member of IMANA board of directors. Follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
2020-05-12 09:41:23 | 4 months ago