Happy International Nurses Day

12 May 2020

Today, May 12, is International Nurses Day and also the birthday of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale who was born 200 years ago.

The ‘Lady with the Lamp’ is famed for spreading the gospel of good sanitation and hand hygiene in the mid-19th Century and never has this been more pertinent than it is during the current coronavirus pandemic as people worldwide embrace Nightingale’s life-saving vision.

The International Council of Nurses has set the theme for International Nurses Day 2020 as “nursing the world to health”, with a focus on the “true value of nurses to the people of the world”.

Of course, 2020 also happens to be the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, as designated by the World Health Organisation; the first time a year has been dedicated to highlight the work and virtues of any profession.

Each year on May 12 the Red Cross Florence Nightingale Medal is awarded to nurses who have excelled in their duty of care. Last year 29 nurses from 19 countries were awarded the medal, three from Australia.

International Nurses Day celebrates and promotes awareness of the vital role nurses play around the world and this year the true value of the nursing profession has perhaps never been more apparent with societies under siege from COVID-19.

In 2015 nations around the world signed up to the goal of ensuring that everyone in the world should have access to health care – universal health coverage – and that nobody should be left behind. A report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Global Health “makes the very simple point that universal health coverage cannot possibly be achieved without strengthening nursing globally. This is partly about increasing the number of nurses, but also crucially about making sure their contribution is properly understood and enabling them to work to their full potential’’.

The report goes on to argue that strengthening nursing will have the triple impact of improving health, promoting gender equality and supporting economic growth by the empowerment of women as leaders in their communities.

“The APPG report recognises that nursing is among the most critical of professions, one with global ramifications and instrumental to the shaping of a better world,’’ said ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj. Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM.

“We congratulate nurses everywhere for their tireless and courageous efforts in helping to ensure the good health of society, particularly in these very trying and uncertain pandemic times.

“The ANMF (SA Branch) will continue to champion the cause of nurses and midwives, to ensure better working conditions, safety, security, and remuneration befitting the vitally important contributions they make to our world every day.’’

Australian and New Zealand nurses and midwives honoured our overseas colleagues who lost their lives treating and caring for patients with COVID-19.

You can view the candlelight vigil below.