Reflection on International Nurses Day 12 May: O Nurses, Keep Struggling…

By humasfik On Tuesday, May 12 th, 2020 · no Comments · In

2020 is a special year for nurses because the World Health Organization (WHO) has set the theme for this year’s World Health Day as “the year of nurses and midwives”. This is to appreciate nurses and midwives who are two-thirds of health workers who have contributed to health development for the world community.

In particular, WHO emphasizes the importance of the risk of a world shortage of 4.6 million nurses by 2030 if there is no specific intervention to invest in the development of this health workforce. Of course, when predicting the number of nurse shortages, WHO has not taken into account the state of the Covid-19 pandemic in which many nurses died and became sick with the deadly virus.

WHO highlighted the importance of government advocacy in the world to strengthen nursing personnel as an essential part in dealing with health problems such as the emergence of infectious diseases, problems due to climate change, aging populations, and the burden of non-communicable diseases. The theme of support for nurses and midwives is also based on the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the founder of the profession, who was born on May 12 and is celebrated as World Nurses Day.

WHO’s support for nurses this year is very relevant, especially now that they are one of the health workers who play an important role in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. Hundreds of nurses have tested positive for the infection and dozens of them have died after treating patients. Without underestimating the role of other health workers in dealing with Covid-19, nurses are the service providers who are most at risk of contracting it. In the primary care setting, nurses constitute 49 percent of health workers who provide direct services, which provide education to the community along with health cadres.

In hospital services, nurses are health workers who often have direct contact with patients in the emergency department to carry out initial examinations and triage. In the treatment room and ICU, even the most intensive nurses are close to the patient to observe closely and document it. No doubt, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remembers and specifically mentions the names of nurses because they interacted very intensively while he was undergoing treatment for Covid-19.

Role during the Pandemic

As most medical personnel, nurses have an important role in dealing with disasters and epidemics. Prior to the disaster, nurses conducted an assessment of community needs, ensuring that the community was prepared for disasters through various educations in primary health services. This is mostly done by nurses in disaster-prone areas. In the acute phase or during disasters and outbreaks, nurses provide physical and mental care for victims.

That was the hardest time for them because it was not uncommon for nurses and their families to become victims, but they had to continue to provide services because of the demands of their duties and professions. Nurses also play an important role in the recovery phase, including restoring the function of health services so that they can be used again by the community.

Helper Spirit Booster

The motivation of nurses in carrying out this risky job is interesting to discuss. The totality of nurses in carrying out risky tasks in the midst of epidemics and disasters is driven by the power of caring nature that has been instilled in them since their education. Caring is a central philosophy that makes nurses attentive and fully present (physical, heart, and mind) in interacting with patients so that nursing care can be carried out more effectively and sustainably.

Caring energizes nurses and increases their capabilities in carrying out their duties. Some examples of the caring nature of nurses are shown in the state of the Covid-19 outbreak in Indonesia. They are willing to work with uncomfortable personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure their patients are safe and do not carry the virus outside the hospital environment. They are also willing to separate from their families to carry out their duties because they are responsible for the safety of patients and their environment.

Moral support was also shown by the campus community to volunteer to support nurse colleagues in various health services. Calibrating the caring nature of nurses who provide services in the field is very important in efforts to recover from an outbreak like this.

The Paradox of the Year of the Nurse

In the midst of many countries and the world community appreciating the contribution of nurses in dealing with the epidemic, nurses in the country face a formidable challenge. Not yet finished with the problem of the lack of sufficient and adequate PPE, other problems related to stigmatization of nurses emerged and became public attention.

A survey conducted by researchers from the Faculty of Nursing, University of Indonesia (UI) in April 2020 of more than 2,000 nurses showed that at least 135 nurses had been expelled from their homes. In fact, it was found that the janitor did not want to take garbage from the house of the nurse who was being treated for this disease. At its peak, the community rejected the bodies of nurses who died due to Covid-19.

This phenomenon has become a paradox in the midst of the nurses’ enthusiasm to help others with their caring spirit. The awards from the central and local governments that provide special incentives for health workers, provide a comfortable place to live while on duty, and prepare a hero’s graveyard certainly deserve appreciation. However, the government has a big homework to do to ensure nurses can work in peace with sufficient PPE and without the negative stigma of society.

This phenomenon certainly should not reduce the spirit of altruism and the fighting spirit of nurses in helping others. Nurses must remain firm in their promises and oaths of profession. This has at least been shown by the late Ninuk, a nurse at Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital (RSCM) Jakarta who died and said, “I live and die for the people I care about, including for the profession.” Ninuk’s heroic spirit is a reflection of the caring nature that must be imprinted in the souls of nurses in the country.

Happy World Nurses Day, keep fighting sincerely.


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