Nursing in a pandemic
This year, 2020, is designated the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife (World Health Organization (WHO), and the bicentenary of the birth of nursing icon, Florence Nightingale, on 12 May. In addition, a global awareness of the value of nurses has been emerging through the Nursing Now campaign.
On 7 April 2020, the WHO published evidence-based reports that inform regional, national, and international policy on investment in nursing and midwifery. Yet the world's 28 million nurses, representing 59% of all health workers, who were overstretched before the pandemic, have established and fortified their significance in the current emergency far better than any report could convey. They have demonstrated their fundamental role in protecting and caring for people and saving lives, while often placing themselves at personal risk. The Royal College of Nursing (2020) advises: ‘Staff who may be required to deliver clinical care to affected patients should … be provided with training and information on any additional infection prevention and control measures needed to work in such environments including the safe donning and removal of PPE’. However, the reported global shortages of PPE leave ‘doctors, nurses and other frontline workers dangerously ill-equipped to care for COVID-19 patients' (WHO, 2020). All nurses must be adequately trained in pandemic practice and should have the appropriate equipment and protection to do their jobs.
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