African nurses keep health systems running

As the world celebrates International Nurses Day, on 12 May, Doctors with Africa CUAMM, says that in Africa, nurses are the figures keeping health systems up and running.

English Africa Service – Vatican City

On International Nurses Day, the International Council of Nurses, International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement say that Nurses and other health care workers on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19 deserve to be recognised and commended for their lifesaving efforts and personal sacrifices amid increased medical risk and in some places amid ostracisation, harassment and attack.

COVID-19: Nurses have been working non-stop

In a related message commemorating the day, Don Dante Carraro, the director of the Italian-based, Doctors with Africa CUAMM, underlined the significant contribution of nurses across the continent.

«In Africa, (as is the case in many places) nurses are the figures who keep health systems up and running. From health centres to outpatient clinics, to hospital departments, they do hidden work, often silent, but also essential given the few local doctors and expatriates. Their ability to communicate with patients, young and old, is fundamental, also in terms of language and understanding of local contexts. Without them, a large part of our work would be impossible: This is why it is important to celebrate their role today,” Don Carraro said.

He urged the world to remember the many nurses and health workers who, in recent months, have been working non-stop for the health of all, even at the cost of their own lives.

Doctors with Africa CUAMM

Founded in 1950, Doctors with Africa CUAMM, is an Italian Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) focused on healthcare. It is now the country’s leading NGO working to protect and improve the wellbeing and health of vulnerable communities in Sub-Saharan Africa. Working with international and local partner teams, CUAMM provides medical aid and expertise in 8 African countries: Angola, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Nurses deserve praise, thanks, protection amid COVID-19.

In a joint message issued in Geneva, Switzerland, the International Council of Nurses, International Red Cross and the Red Crescent Movement say that nurses deserve praise, thanks and protection amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Nurses and other health care workers on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19 deserve to be recognised and commended for their lifesaving efforts and personal sacrifices amid increased medical risk -and in some places amid ostracisation, harassment and attack,” reads the statement.

Nurses are lifesavers

There are worrying reports, in some parts of the world, regarding harassment and violence against nurses and other health care personnel linked to the COVID-19 response, including in public transportation and at health workers’ own homes.

“Nurses are the world’s lifesavers. They are risking their own health and too often sacrificing time with their family to help those suffering from COVID-19,” said Robert Mardini, the director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Zero tolerance towards stigmatisation and violence against nurses

Harassment, stigmatisation, and even attacks on nurses are distressing.

“Stigmatisation and violence against nurses and other health workers in some countries is shocking; the only response is zero-tolerance,” said International Council of Nurses President Annette Kennedy. “The pandemic has seen frontline nurses rightly recognised as heroes, but they are also ordinary mothers and fathers with their own families to protect.”

Nurses serving vulnerable communities in more deprived areas of the world are also particularly at risk due to COVID-19.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is key to protecting the health of medical workers and should be prioritised for them by governments. Additionally, there is an urgent need to ensure that PPE and other medical supplies are available and accessible in low-resource and conflict countries through national measures and intergovernmental cooperation.