Nurses: Covid-19 Heroes
If there is one sector that has been stretched to the limit and beyond over more than one year now, it is healthcare. There is growing frustration among the public as Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc. Despite feeling helpless in the face of the pandemic and growing dependency on healthcare workers, many chose to redirect their anguish at doctors and nurses who have been silently trying to save as many lives as possible since the crisis began last year. International Council of Nurses reported that at least 1,172 incidents against healthcare workers, facilities and transport were registered during their response to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 alone, out of which hundreds were directly related to the pandemic. It stated that more than 1.6 million nurses in 34 countries were infected by the virus last year and nearly 3000 died because of the disease as on January 31 this year. This doesn’t include the figures of the second wave that has hit many countries hard, especially India. The survey by International Council of Nurses revealed that most nurses are suffering from mental health distress and burnout in view of the pandemic. They have been through so much – physically and psychologically besides the risk involved in taking care of the patients amid the crisis. Their ordeal is compounded by social discrimination and stigma meted out almost on a daily basis. Several assault cases against doctors and nurses have been reported in India too, and in Nagaland state as well. It’s unfortunate that the warriors of the pandemic have to face the social ire for no fault of theirs, in return for their immense sacrifice.
To mark the contributions of nurses to society, the world observes International Nurses’ Day on May 12, the birthday of modern nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale, and the theme for this year is “Nurses: A Voice to Lead – A vision for future healthcare”. While the theme is about how the profession will transform the healthcare system in future, the ongoing pandemic has disrupted nursing education so badly that concerted effort is necessary from countries and states to produce enough healthcare workers to meet the demand. According to the International Council of Nurses, there was shortage of 5.9 million nurses before the Coronavirus outbreak last year, and the world will need 13 million of them by 2030, considering the ageing of nurses and the pandemic effect. The challenge to produce so many nurses in the next few years is going to be tough in view of several countries being forced to cancel nursing studies due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, it is also reported that people have started valuing the work of nurses more than ever before and this shift has encouraged many to choose nursing career. However, countries especially those that require more workforce should address issues like poor pay and working condition of nurses in order to transform healthcare. There can’t be good healthcare system without sufficient and efficient nurses. They deserve more than just praises, they deserve respect and surely deserve better pay.