9 May 2019
From a young age, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in health. Growing up, I was affected by seeing people suffering. I was struck by the glaring health inequalities within my community; it was the poorest who were the most prone to get sick, their poor health stopping them from thriving. Seeing family and my community ill, wanting to help but not knowing how or what to do drove me to seek a career in healthcare. Today I am a Registered Nurse.
The Nursing Now campaign is a global movement that seeks to improve health and ensure access to health for all by raising the status and profile of nurses worldwide. The campaign launched in February 2018 and since then, nurses from across the globe have made a stand for health and joined forces to demand a greater voice in health decision making.
As a young nurse, I have used the position I have to advocate for health for my community. I have seen how, in spite of the valuable role of nurses in society, they are all too often undervalued and unable to use their knowledge and expertise to its full potential. It is crucial that policy makers work with nurses to deliver the best care we can for our communities.
We have a mammoth challenge on our hands to ensure that healthcare is universally available to all. In 10 years I would like to see nurses getting the recognition they deserve and having a greater role in health decision making. I would like to see nurses around the world enabled to work to the top of our licensure and working effectively to tackle tackling current and future health challenges. I would like to see more nurses in senior leadership positions. I would like to see equal access to opportunities, with more men in nursing and more women in global health leadership. As a world, I would like to see us closer to the aspiration of universal health coverage – healthcare services being accessible, affordable, acceptable, and using appropriate technology, ensuring equitable distribution, fostering a multi-sectoral approach and encouraging community participation with an overall emphasis on health promotion.
Young people are current users and future implementers of healthcare across the globe, but their voice may be overlooked in local and national discussions on policies that influence health. Young people can offer contextual knowledge of their health needs, the experiences of families and peers, and enthusiasm for progress and equity. Raising the status and profile of nursing, and providing more opportunities for career progression will encourage more young people to consider a career in nursing. Increasing the roles and scope of nurses will give young people more opportunities to train and engage with the different specialties of nursing, and in turn allow them to have a greater impact. Giving young nurses the opportunity for their voice to be heard and opinions included in decision making will encourage greater commitment and participation. Promoting nursing’s contribution to society and creating champions to serve as role models to young nurses, including increasing mentorship and training in advocacy and leadership will give young nurses greater capacity to be strong future health leaders.
The global disease burden is growing rapidly, and we are not equipped to deal with what is to come. The world faces a shortfall of 18 million health workers by 2030. Half of this shortfall is expected to be of nurses and midwives. In order to care for people, we must invest in people. We need more health workers to deliver care in order to ensure access to health for all. Furthermore, we need more nurses in positions of leadership to support our cause and promote positive changes within global healthcare policy.
This month, we celebrate nurses and the nursing profession, but we must also call for more nurses in senior leadership positions and support employers to improve access to training and leadership education in order to create a fairer, healthier world.
I appeal to policy makers, their partners and global health stakeholders across the world to support me and my colleagues globally to make a positive difference in the lives of our communities, to make health accessible for all.