Nurses, our heroes

Jamaica yesterday joined the world in observing International Nurses Day with a message of support and encouragement from Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, and presentations to nurses by Tastee Ltd as well as Lasco Distributors which annually hosts a Nurse of the Year contest.

International Nurses Day is celebrated on May 12, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, to mark the contributions nurses make to society.

Nightingale, who came to prominence while serving as a manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War in the 1850s, in which she organised care for wounded soldiers, was a trailblazing figure in nursing who greatly affected 19th- and 20th-century policies around proper medical care.

She was known for her night rounds to aid the wounded, establishing her image as the “Lady with the Lamp”.

In his message yesterday, Minister Tufton noted that 2020 has been rightly dubbed by the World Health Organization as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The important role that nurses play is even more evident in these challenging times,” he said, noting the day’s theme this year is ‘Nurses: A voice to lead – Nursing the World to Health’.

“Nurses in Jamaica account for the majority of technical human resource in the public health sector. They are front-line health-care providers with the requisite training and skills to appropriately identify, treat and refer patients throughout the health-care continuum,” Tufton said.

He noted that nurses in Jamaica have contributed significantly to the achievements of the health and wellness ministry’s priority areas, such as improved immunisation coverage, sustaining the fight against non-communicable diseases, and communicable diseases, decrease in infant, child and maternal mortality, among others.

“As a substantive part of the public health workforce, nurses also play a key role in universal health and primary care renewal,” he said.

“The Ministry of Health and Wellness’ strategic priorities continue to include maintaining and developing a qualified and professional workforce for the delivery of health and allied services, as well as addressing health system challenges in terms of inadequate distribution and a shortage of skilled health-care workers.

“Our nurses form a critical part of these priorities and we will continue to explore various avenues for nurses to hone their skills, receive the maximum benefits, while contributing to the best health outcome for all.

“We hear your voices and today we take the time to acknowledge the heroes of health, without whom public health would not be possible. We thank you for your bravery, virtue and your selflessness as you commit your lives daily to deliver health care with compassion,” he said.

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