Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 2 December 2020

What International Nurses Day means during the coronavirus crisis

Today, we mark two centuries since the birth of Florence Nightingale, a British medical trainer and statistician. Having founded the world’s first secular nursing school in London, she is widely recognised as the founder of modern nursing.

Nightingale’s birthday is also commemorated as International Nurses Day – an occasion that comes this year amidst an unprecedented global health crisis.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has placed immense pressure on medical staff the world over. Nurses, along with other health practitioners, have had to treat patients infected with the highly contagious disease while continuing to provide regular care for those suffering from other medical conditions – all while trying to keep themselves and their families safe from Covid-19.

The general public everywhere has been extremely supportive of essential workers and medical staff. Some have hosted fundraisers for institutions such as the NHS in the UK, while others continue to cheer and clap for hospital employees every evening. For nurses, widespread public support and recognition have always been overdue. Many wrongly view the work of nurses as secondary to that of doctors, but nursing staff form an integral part of the medical system, and without them patient care would fall far short of the essential medical care around the world.

In the UAE, nursing staff have long been recognised as an integral to hospital care and well-being. Now, during the coronavirus outbreak, their work is more vital than ever. As the pandemic continues to spread, the need for nurses continues to rise. More than 60 trained nurses were flown from India to Dubai this week, with more expected to arrive soon as part of a bilateral agreement.

Importantly, UAE has also supplied all nurses with personal protective equipment, enabling carry on with their life-saving work without additional fears for their safety.

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is not to take anyone for granted, especially essential workers like nurses

Around the world, however, too many hospitals have suffered from massive PPE shortages, leaving medical staff exposed to the coronavirus, and putting their families at risk of infection. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose city has been an epicentre for the virus in the US, has criticised the country’s coronavirus action plan for failing to provide much-needed financial support for essential workers. “You want to say thank you?” he asked in a message addressed to the Federal Government, “provide the funding, not just the applause.”

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is not to take anyone for granted, especially essential workers like nurses risking their lives for us. Others who are less visible like delivery drivers and waste collectors have been vital in providing for societies. And among medical staff, nurses, paramedics and doctors alike are crucial in the fights against Covid-19. Let us pay thanks to nurses on their dedicated day, and salute their efforts – especially in times of crisis – in helping us to heal.

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Updated: May 12, 2020 09:48 PM

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