h3. A Note from Wafaa El-Sadr, ICAP Director, on International Nurses Day

On May 12—the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth—the international community will celebrate International Nurses Day to mark the contribution nurses make to society. This year’s theme, “Closing the Gap: the Millennium Development Goals: 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1” highlights the crucial role of nurses in achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals by the target date of 2015.

On this day, I would like to take the opportunity to recognize the tireless work of nurses around world, who, in many settings, are the primary providers of health services. ICAP recognizes that the nursing workforce constitutes a fundamental component of each country’s health system and actively supports the professional development of nurses in sub-Saharan Africa. Since 2010, ICAP has intensified its work in this arena through the Global Nurse Capacity Building Program (GNCBP), funded by PEPFAR through the Health Resources and Services Agency (HRSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. GNCBP is a major initiative that focuses on building the capacity of nurses and nursing educational institutions across sub-Saharan Africa, and on building local and regional partnerships to support nursing-related leadership development and policy reform.

Key achievements to date range from collaborating with Swaziland’s Ministry of Health to develop a national pre-service nursing HIV curriculum; supporting the development and implementation of clinical nurse mentoring curricula at nursing schools in Zambia and Malawi; supporting the development of a Master’s degree program in nursing and midwifery education in Malawi; and supporting nursing associations in Ethiopia to promote a platform for the establishment of nursing regulatory bodies.

These varied achievements are paving the road toward an expanded, enhanced, and sustainable nurse workforce. However, much remains to be accomplished. Thus, today, on this International Nurses Day, we must not only celebrate the essential role nurses play in providing healthcare to communities around the world. We must also redouble our efforts to meet the needs of nurses around the world and to seek innovative strategies to effectively train, support, and ultimately retain members of this critically important workforce.

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