Nurses around the world are in crisis, whether they are on the lookout for COVID-19 in India, exhausted British workers, preparing for 1%, or in Kenya where, in some places, they have not been paid for months at all.
Inadequate pay, low cost and support: nurses report stress and fatigue. The International Council of Nurses says that the “COVID-19 results” mean that the number of nurses worldwide is now six million, most of them low-income and middle-aged.
This needs to change. If we are to overcome these and future epidemics and tackle the growing problem of non-communicable diseases as well as mental illness, strong, motivated nursing staff is the backbone of our efforts.
We now have one chance at a generation of change. At the World Health Assembly this week, health ministers will be asked to approve a new five-year plan to transform the nursing profession, through workforce, legislation, education, training and leadership development.
As the largest group of health professionals, who have the opportunity to reach out to the public and the general public believe, nurses have a key role to play in the fight against disease – and to achieve universal health care. Governments that think they are incapable of reasoning should also consider: the evidence shows that breastfeeding not only promotes long-term health, but also promotes gender equality and economic growth.
The plague has highlighted the role that nurses and other health professionals play – critical times, security risks, and more. But there is a tendency to think of them as “compassionate angels”, not as highly skilled professionals who combine mental intelligence with complex coping skills, because they find the necessities for a number of patients day and night.
Some of these are undoubtedly derived from the traditional culture, since most nurses are women. Their decline in medical practice means that they have never been culturally informed or considered to be of high status.
The World Health Organization has set a good example in the selection of supervisors; all nations must follow his lead.
Nurses also promote new vision in their work. The Nursing Now campaign is made up of nurses in 126 countries, who want to realize what they can do and have a say in making decisions.
In their day-to-day work, nurses are proving themselves capable of becoming leaders and innovators – from Sana in Pakistan who are pioneering medical care through telemedicine in the far North West Frontier, to Stephan in Ghana who is building a new interactive platform. stroke victims via WhatsApp phones, as well as Harriet in Uganda, a midwife whose organization has been working hard to help the girls who are pregnant and giving birth.
As we rebuild the health system after the epidemic, there is much to be done and nothing can be done without nurses. Nurses need to continue to embrace leadership and break the stereotypes and stereotypes that drive their work everywhere. But they cannot do it alone. Governments who want to see a change in healthcare reach every category of their people – and all the benefits it can bring – need to invest in nursing and help nurses work better.
This means recognizing the important role that nurses can play in creating and delivering services to the public – and creating opportunities for nurse-led care, especially for non-communicable diseases and for primary and public health care.
Nursing leaders need to be part of planning, organizing and directing organizations so that they can bring their ideas and understanding into health decision-making. As the epidemic has shown, governments need to ensure that nurses have a place of work, proper education, and adequate funding for training and employment, if they continue to seek and retain them.
Nurses give us a lot: we need to make sure they are supported, respected, protected, encouraged and equipped enough to support their full potential.
The views expressed in this article are for the authors only and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editor of Al Jazeera.