This International Nurses Day, let's immortalise their selfless contribution to humanity

New Delhi, IndiaEdited By: Gravitas deskUpdated: May 13, 2021, 10:58 AM IST

Senior nurse Dilhani Somaweera (R) administers the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to Josephine Faleye (C), 80, at the Royal Free hospital in London Photograph:(AFP)

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As the world celebrates Nightingale's birth anniversary, nurses around the world are healing Covid warriors back to health

In 1853, Russia went to war with France, the Ottoman Empire, the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The alliance won the war but thousands of their soldiers were wounded.

A lady with a lamp, Florence Nightingale, nursed them back to health. She is considered the founder of modern nursing.

Today, history is repeating itself. As the world celebrates Nightingale's birth anniversary, nurses around the world are healing Covid warriors back to health.

While nightingale is remembered for her lamp, nurses today are going down history books with their PPE kits.

An orchestra was seen playing in honour of the nurses at a vaccination centre in Madrid - the super-humans in PPE kits who are fighting the pandemic from the frontline with low salaries and high risk.

“I am not tired, I think we have to give everything we can and even if we are tired we have to keep motivated because that is what we have to do”, retired nurse hired to vaccinate people at the Wizink centre, Maria Jesus Respaldiza, 67, said.

The pandemic has changed the lives of many nurses like Maria who are working round the clock, away from their families even with foils and dustbin bags- as protection. Many nurses are being forced to pick between their loved ones and duties.

“My family put pressure on me to quit the job.... During the pandemic our relationships with family become difficult as we avoid close contact with them”, Huma Komal, a nurse from Karachi, Pakistan, was reported as saying. Like Huma, most nurses have picked service before self but our systems have failed them.

What about India?

In India, nurses are overworked because the country has just 1.7 nurses per 1,000 people. The WHO recommends a minimum of three nurses which means India has less than 43 per cent of the ideal number. Last year, the Government of India told the parliament that the country has 3.07 million registered nursing personnel. This includes nurses, midwives, and nursing assistants.

According to government figures, India's nurse-patient ratio is 1:2. Even then, India is far behind the internationally recommended standard of 1:4. At least 116 nurses have died of COVID-19 in India and this number was last updated in February 2021.

India's second wave has stretched nurses to their limits. Last month, a story of a four-month pregnant nurse went viral. Nancy Ayeza Mistry was attending to her patients while observing her fast during the holy month of Ramzan. Nurses like Ayeza are our Florence Nightingale and they are making history with their PPE kits.

On this year’s International Nurses Day, the theme is “A vision for future healthcare”. Our world would need at least 9 million more nurses by 2030 if we want to attain the sustainable development goal of health and well-being. We have five years to ease the increasing pressure on the healthcare system.

This Nurses Day, let's ease the increasing pressure on the frontline workers. Let's thank our nurses for their service. Above all, let's make their battle a little easier by staying at home.