Nursing in Turbulent Times

Markaki_Ada_032_2018_RT (2)By Ada Markaki

World Health Day is a global health awareness day marked every year on April 7, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization (WHO) and is acknowledged by governments and non-governmental organizations with interests in public health.

With nurses and other health workers at the forefront of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) response, this year’s international observation and mobilization could not have come at a more poignant time.

2020 also is designated as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, a lifetime observance of the work of nurses and midwives and their critical role in keeping the world healthy. World Health Day 2020 also highlights the current status of nursing and midwifery around the world.

Nurses are working heroically to combat COVID-19 providing emergency and critical care under battlefield conditions, carrying out surveillance screening and public health outreach, addressing mounting fears and questions and mobilizing grass-root community responses.

Being on the frontlines, working courageously with sparse resources, and creating order out of chaos are integral to nursing’s history. Nursing’s response is also the legacy of Florence Nightingale, whose 200th Birthday we are also commemorating this year. Reflecting on the vital role of nurses in caring for individuals and safeguarding the health of communities, whether in our own backyard or across the world, also exemplifies ICN’s theme for 2020, Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Nursing the World to Health.

The WHO and its partners, the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), International Council of Nurses (ICN), Nursing Now and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) are releasing a series of recommendations April 7 to strengthen the nursing workforce as part of the first-ever State of the World Nursing (SoWN) report 2020,

The SoWN report will provide a global picture of the nursing workforce and support evidence-based planning to improve health and well-being for all. It will also set the agenda for data collection, policy dialogue, research and advocacy, and investment in the health workforce for the next generation. The decision by WHO to produce this report comes at a time when global health leaders are focused on two important outcomes for their populations: universal health coverage and the achievement of the sustainable development goals. Therefore, recommendations will be vital for achieving national and global targets related to universal health coverage, maternal and child health, infectious and non-communicable diseases including mental health, emergency preparedness and response, patient safety and the delivery of integrated, people-centered care.

Demonstrating nurses’ central roles in addressing a wide range of health challenges, including a pandemic, has never been more newsworthy. The UAB School of Nursing has connected with our global partners, international visiting scholars and international students to maintain contact, provide support, offer distance accessible mentorship, and share in the common human experience. For example, we have:

  • Compiled a list of resources for virtual teaching in nursing programs, including UABSON resources for distance accessible course development, Zoom tutorials and other free tools
  • Joined the Sigma Global Leadership Mentoring Community to mentor international nurses in professional development
  • Brainstormed with Sparkman Center for Global Health on the effect of COVID-19 on UAB’s international activities and future plans

In honor of all the hero nurses across the globe, every day and during this historic pandemic, we invite you to follow the event that will take place in WHO Headquarters (Geneva), Tuesday, 7 April 2020, 8:30 – 9:30 am (CST), broadcasted live on Webex at:

In appreciation and solidarity

we commemorate and push forward the

International Year of the Nurse and Midwife

Ada Markaki, PhD, RN, PHCNS-BC, is an Associate Professor at the UAB School of Nursing and in charge of the school’s Global Leadership pillar. As Deputy Director of the PAHO/WHO Collaborating Center (WHOCC), she leads one of only eight designated centers in the USA, integrating global health into nursing education, research, and clinical practice. 



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