World Health Day: Nurses need protection, not sympathy

We may have clanged the utensils, clapped the hands or lit the lights to show sympathy towards millions of nurses, who are the frontline warriors of the current fight against the deadly virus.

But if the stories emerging from across the world are any indication, they need protection to save themselves, rather than a few claps. That should be the message on this World Health Day today and the WHO has named this year the ‘International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife’.

Reports said nurses infected by the virus in Mumbai and Delhi are grappling for the basic necessities and care. There are also plenty of reports about the lack of PPEs for the healthcare persons. We also know thousands of them have been infected and hundreds died while saving others.

They have left their comforts and safety to fight from the front. They deserve more than sympathy or gratitude.

The WHO has predicted a shortfall of 6 million nurses by 2030. But, given the treatment they get now, more people will be scared or not willing to come forward and join this noble profession.

Nursing is the largest occupational group in the health-care sector, accounting for roughly 59% of health professions, WHO says. There are just under 28 million nurses worldwide, about 5.9 million short of what the world needs to adequately care for the growing population, according to a new report published Monday from WHO, the International Council of Nurses and Nursing Now.

“Nurses are the backbone of the health system,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. “Today, many nurses find themselves on the frontline in the battle against COVID-19. This report is a stark reminder of the unique role they play, and a wakeup call to ensure they get the support they need to keep the world healthy.”

Currently, doctors, nurses and other health-care workers scramble to have better protective gear while treating the people. Italy has seen the worst scenario where hundreds of healthcare people have died.

A survey from UK said, 72% of doctors cannot get hold of an FFP3 mask when they need one. 77% report shortages of long-sleeved gowns. 43% cannot always use a visor or goggles when they need them. Almost half (49%) of medics performing such procedures cannot always access a gown, 42% an FFP3 mask and 20% proper eye protection, it said.

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