When the World Health Assembly announced that 2020 would be the year of the nurse and midwife, we all envisaged a year of celebration and thanks. Never did we imagine that our nurses would be at the forefront of the biggest healthcare pandemic of this generation.
Nursing the world to health
The International Council of Nurses (ICN) announced the theme of International Nurses Day 2020 would be ‘Nursing the world to health.’ Never was a theme so relevant and poignant. There are 20 million nurses across the world, and each one has their own story—a story of universal, unbiased care.
This year, the ICN focuses on nurses across the world who have championed delivering care to those most vulnerable or unable to access basic healthcare. Here are some of their stories.
Making healthcare information accessible in the UK
Almost 10% of Sheffield’s population is of South Asian origin, for many of whom English is not their first language. Recognising that the language barrier prevented their community from seeking healthcare support, nurses Parveen Ali and Nisar Ahmad Gilal set up a weekly radio programme for the Urdu and Hindi speaking communities in Sheffield. During this show, they present information about managing certain health conditions and guidance on seeking health screenings for things such as cervical cancer and diabetes. Since starting their show in 2018, Parveen and Nisar’s communities feel better able to understand healthcare information and access health services.
Removing barriers to care for vulnerable people in Lebanon
The influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon meant more and more patients required treatment for very complicated wounds. The Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) hospital introduced a nurse-led wound care service in 2019, removing barriers to receiving healthcare and opening their doors to any patient, no matter their race, religion, gender or political convictions. Not only does this hospital support with physical healthcare but also mental healthcare, giving adults and children a second chance at life.
Supporting communities during and following natural disasters in Japan
Since the Great Hashin-Awaji Earthquake of 1995, the Japanese Nursing Association has operated a disaster relief network made up of local nursing associations, ready to be deployed to affected areas following large-scale natural disasters. Shy of 10,000 nurses make up this network, prepared and willing to volunteer in the event of a disaster. Their roles are essential in supporting the country to get back on its feet following such devastating events. Not only are they key in being able to help mass casualties but also support local nurses by giving them some relief during overwhelming times.
Providing compassionate care for veterans in the USA
The Veteran’s Health Administration (VHA) is the most extensive integrated healthcare system in the USA, serving over 9 million military veterans and their families each year. Made up of 322,000 health professionals and support staff, the VHA provides women’s health services, psychiatric services, rehabilitation and care for ageing veterans. Across the USA, around 11% of homeless people are veterans, with 60% being 50+, mostly with complex medical and psychiatric needs. The VHA partnered with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and created the Veterans’ Affairs Supportive Housing which has rehomed more than 85,000 veterans since 2010.
You can read more amazing stories on how nurses are supporting their communities to access healthcare here.