International Nurses’ Day is celebrated annually on 12 May, the anniversary of the founder of modern day nursing, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. The theme for 2014 is Nurses: A Force for Change – A vital resource for health.
As the largest health care profession in the world, there is no doubt that nurses are key to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Nurses are often the only health professionals accessible to many people in their lifetime. So nurses are particularly well placed and often the most innovative in reaching underserved and disadvantaged populations.
Nurses are educated to understand the complex nature of maintaining health and wellness, and the impact of psychosocial and socio-economic factors such as poverty, unemployment and ethnicity.
They see the context for wellbeing and accordingly act in way to reach beyond the immediate presenting problems.
Nurses have done much towards the achievement of the MDGs and to help shape and deliver sustainable goals and outcomes beyond 2015. And we can be proud of our achievements. Yet there is still more that we can and must do.
Nurses must engage in advocacy and lobbying. We must be involved in the development of any programme introduced to improve health services as it is nurses who have the practical knowledge of how health service delivery can be designed, coordinated and effectively implemented.
National nurses associations (NNAs) have an important role to play in informing, advising, encouraging and supporting nurses in their work. NNAs must continue to work with governments and others to strengthen health systems and create the conditions necessary to maximize the contribution of nurses.