Nursing Workforce and the Lethal Virus

File Pic

One of the key factors determining the economic development of a country is the health of its population. Good public health is considered fundamental to the welfare of a society. Health, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not just merely the absence of disease. Elements contributing to the good public health include genetics, favourable environment, healthy relationships and better education.

Marking the importance of health, ‘World Health Day’ is held in the month of April every year under the patronage of the WHO. It celebrates the work of Healthcare Workers, that is, doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, pharmacists, ward staff, healthcare administrators, scientists, researchers, laboratory/clinical technicians, public health officials, health and sanitation workers, ambulance drivers, cleaners and many others who play a significant role in keeping the world healthy. The day is also aimed to create global awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a subject of major concern. The theme for the Year 2020 is: “Support Nurses and Midwives” which recognizes the role of nurses and other healthcare workers in the global health system.

Unfortunately, the year 2020 saw World Health Day in the midst of a health crisis in the form of the Novel Corona Virus pandemic that affected people in hundreds of thousands across the globe. Never in our wildest dreams did we think that we would ever come across a situation like this. Although words like ‘Curfew’, ‘Shutdown’, or ‘Hartaal’ are known to the citizenry but the terms like ‘Social/Physical Distancing Practices’, ‘Self-Isolation’, ‘Lockdown’ and ‘Pandemic’ were not in their vernacular before. However, as the world entered the second quarter of the year, it is facing one of the greatest challenges in the shape of the pandemic outbreak of Corona Virus necessitating a complete lockdown to contain infection spread.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the number of people who have tested positive for Corona Virus is rising and more cases are likely to emerge in the coming weeks. In such a public health emergency, our frontline warriors are just there in the battlefield fighting the pandemic tooth and nail to protect the community. The pandemic has posed intense hardships to our society but the strength, resilience and concern of our healthcare professionals are far greater who are working vigorously round the clock to keep our community safe and healthy. They are the ones who are actually putting their own lives at risk while treating a Corona positive/suspected patient and hence run a high risk of getting infected. They are working untiringly, helping people relentlessly combat the contagion and are trying their utmost to prevent patients spreading virus to others. Reportedly, levels of contagion spread even among the healthcare workers have also started ringing alarm bells. Many healthcare workers and their relatives have been infected while fighting this invisible enemy.

There is no denying the fact that the Novel Corona Virus has pushed us all to a state of immense crisis. Apart from the doctors and other healthcare workers, our nursing workforce is putting itself in harm’s way to save our lives. Undoubtedly, nurses are the first line of defense in any healthcare issue. Today, as the world is putting up a united front to fight this crisis, our nurses and midwives are also the frontline soldiers in this battle who selflessly put their health and strength on the line for the well-being of others on daily basis. They are the unsung sheroes who have exceptional levels of workload, particularly those specialized in intensive care units, in healthcare management or those directly involved in combating the lethal bug. They, along with other healthcare staff, are fighting the killer virus by providing high quality treatment and care. They are organizing and reorganizing wards to open more beds for infected patients while keeping others, including women in labour, safe and healthy. They are taking stock of equipment and lending it across units. In our valley, where the patients tested positive are on the rise, nurses are on toes 24/7. They are providing advanced levels of care for emergencies and trauma. They are not only risking their lives but also keeping their duty above everything else. They are devoting hours, days and weeks to taking care of patients. In a scenario like this, we need to support them and take a moment to thank them for their commendable services. Nobody could have imagined the critical importance of nurses in our society brought into focus so clearly by the outbreak of Corona Virus. The invaluable role they are playing is a testimony of their sacrifice, courage and commitment to a healthier and safer society.

This year’s day is dedicated to nurses and midwives with an aim to remind the global community about the key role they have been playing in keeping the world healthy. Certainly, without their aid, there would have been no sufficient and effective response to any medical/public health emergency including current pandemic emergency. They have been exhibiting strength and care for patients, check on them, comfort and clean them up even if patients are unkind and ungrateful to them. When they see a person in need, they try their best to meet their needs and return them healthy to their homes. Be it recalled that nursing and midwifery workforce is one of the most valuable resources in healthcare system of our society but it is distressing that in many hospitals today across J&K region they are, reportedly, lacking sufficient Personal Protection Equipments and safety gears. They are suffering from a constant fear of bringing the disease to their homes. Despite all these odds, nurses alongside other healthcare professionals are serving the society selflessly to their best expertise.

This being so, our society needs to support and take care of nurses and other healthcare providers. Our society depends on their conviction to treat the public every day with their clinical excellence and deliver the care with compassion. As the whole healthcare experts are on the forefront of getting us through this catastrophic situation, we need to strengthen their resilience with our gratitude and honour their contribution.

So, let us join together in paying tribute to all healthcare workers including nurses and midwives who are putting themselves at risk to fight the ravages of this pandemic. Together, we hope to emerge from this trial stronger, healthier and more united than ever before. Let us salute them and express gratitude for their altruistic and compassionate services. The relentless pursuit of these frontline warriors to care for those impacted by Corona Virus exemplifies their commitment and dedication to protect the health of the people in J& K and beyond.

Tubah Shah is Masters in English Literature and Dr Manzoor Shah a Former Commerce Teacher.