‘Today on World Health Day, let us not only pray for each other’s good health and well-being but also reaffirm our gratitude towards all those doctors, nurses, medical staff and healthcare workers who are bravely leading the battle against the COVID-19 menace,’ tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi today.
Theme of World Health Day 2020
April 7 is the day to celebrate the work of nurses and midwives and remind world leaders of the critical role they play in keeping the world healthy.
Nurses and other health workers are at the forefront of COVID-19 response – providing high quality, respectful treatment and care, leading community dialogue to address fears and questions and, in some instances, collecting data for clinical studies. Quite simply, without nurses, there would be no response.
In this International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, World Health Day will highlight the current status of nursing and around the world. WHO and its partners will make a series of recommendations to strengthen the nursing and midwifery workforce. This will be vital if we are to achieve national and global targets related to universal health coverage, maternal and child health, infectious and non-communicable diseases including mental health, emergency preparedness and response, patient safety and the delivery of integrated, people-centred care, amongst others.
Support nurses and midwives
The tagline for World Health Day 2020 is: Support nurses and midwives. The Seventy-second World Health Assembly designated 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife not only to honour the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, but also to recognize the daily contributions of nurses and midwives to the health and well-being of populations across the globe, especially in the wake of the fight against COVID-19.
Nurses and healthcare workers are critical to deliver on the promise of “leaving no one behind” and the global effort to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They make a central contribution to national and global targets related to a range of health priorities, including universal health coverage, mental health and noncommunicable diseases, emergency preparedness and response, patient safety, and the delivery of integrated, people-centred care.
No global health agenda can be realized without concerted and sustained efforts to maximize the contributions of the nursing workforce and their roles within interprofessional health teams. To do so requires policy interventions that enable them to have maximum impact and effectiveness by optimizing nurses’ scope and leadership, alongside accelerated investment in their education, skills and jobs. Such investments will also contribute to the SDG targets related to education, gender, decent work and inclusive economic growth.
Role of nurses in epidemics
Nurses and health workers have played a pivotal role as part of teams managing epidemics that threaten health across the globe, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, the Middle East respiratory coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak in 2015, Zika virus disease in 2016, Ebola virus disease in 2014 and the COVID-19 outbreak that began in 2019.
They are often the first provider that a patient sees in a health facility; their roles may vary depending on context, but often include triage, early recognition of life-threatening conditions, administration of medications, performance of life-saving procedures, and initiation of early referral. Through the WHO Emergency Medical Teams Initiative, nurses and other health workers are trained to better support India’s capacity to respond to future disaster and emergency situations. This may be particularly important to increase the resilience of health systems that have been made more vulnerable through disasters and conflict.
On World Health Day 2020, we salute the nurses and health workers in showing resilience in the face of COVID-19 and selflessly continuing to deliver essential services for our well-being.