This year, International Nurses Day takes on special meaning for all of us working in public health. As the entire human race battles COVID-19, nurses around the world are playing a central role in the pandemic response—providing care and helping communities to stay well—and many have made the ultimate sacrifice and died fighting this novel coronavirus. Today is a special moment to recognize these heroes who walk among us—and for those who have passed on, to ensure that their memories are eternal.

This year, this annual celebration is doubly significant, as we are also commemorating the bicentennial of Florence Nightingale. She is, of course, famous for her accomplishments in the professionalization of the nursing sector and fierce advocacy for improved sanitary conditions in hospitals. But at the foundation of her impressive professional accomplishments lay an absolute commitment to her patients and their families during their most difficult hours. It is this call to care that drove her ceaseless advocacy for the poor and vulnerable among society, and why nurses still take ‘The Nightingale Pledge’ today. Her legacy is at work today in the spirit and commitment of the nurses who are tackling our current health crisis.

Here at ICAP, we are motivated by that spirit as well. My team is working around the clock to ensure nurses around the globe have the training they need to mount an effective response to COVID-19 in the communities they serve. While important for every health care worker, this information is critical for our colleagues working in resource-limited settings, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where health systems are already over-burdened.

A screen of the forthcoming online training on COVID-19 for health workers developed by ICAP.

The training modules we are developing are practical and focus on results, providing frontline health workers with knowledge, skills development, and action plans to immediately implement in their facilities, including COVID-19 disease diagnostics, infection prevention and control, triage care, guidance to maintain essential services in pandemics, and communication strategies.

Defeating this pandemic will only be possible if we prioritize the safety of the health care workers at the heart of the response. We must ensure that our nurses and other frontline health workers have adequate training, support, and personal protective equipment.

Nurses care for our loved ones at some of the most difficult times of their lives and in this difficult moment, we must do the same for them.

This article is part of ICAP’s 2020 Year of the Nurse campaign to advocate for nurses as leaders in the international health sector and encourage discussion on how the global health world can better leverage nurses’ unique connections to the communities they serve.

With nurses at the helm advocating for patient-centered approaches in health care and health policy, practical and affordable solutions for the world’s most pressing health challenges are reachable.

Learn more about our work with, and for, nurses on our campaign page, #ThisNurseCan. 

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