Nurses and midwives make a significant contribution to the health and wellbeing of all Australians. Largely, however, their outstanding work appears to go unnoticed by the broader community. Even within our professions we often don’t celebrate the achievements of nurses and midwives enough, and certainly not to the extent that our colleagues in the US do.
So it’s great to have two major events occurring in May which give us the opportunity to join with our global colleagues to give due recognition to the vital role played by the nursing and midwifery professions.
The events we refer to are: International Day of the Midwife on 5 May and International Nurses’ Day on 12 May
May 5 is the internationally recognised day for highlighting the work of midwives. The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) established the idea of the ‘International Day of the Midwife’ following suggestions and discussion among midwives associations in the late 1980s, then launched the initiative formally in 1992. On this day each year ICM asks the world to focus on the role of midwives and midwifery, and provides a campaign theme to champion the work of midwives. Reflecting the WHO call for midwives, ICM has been using an overarching theme ‘The World Needs Midwives Today More Than Ever’ in an attempt to progress the midwifery related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs 4 and 5). ICM has declared the subtheme for 2014 to be: ‘Midwives changing the world one family at a time’. This aims to send a strong message that through midwives involvement in the lives of mothers and babies, they are providing care which changes families, communities and the world. We urge our members to join with global colleagues in celebrating International Midwives Day and thereby support the case that adequately educated and resourced professional midwives are crucial to achieving MDGs 4 and 5.
International Nurses’ Day is celebrated around the world every 12 May, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. The International Council of Nurses (ICN) initiated this day of celebration in 1965, and each year commemorates this important day with the production and distribution of an International Nurses’ Day (IND) Kit.
The IND theme for 2014 is: ‘Nurses: A Force for Change – A vital resource for health’. As with the midwives, ICN recognises that, ‘nurses have a great responsibility to improve the health of the population as well as to contribute towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals’. Investment must therefore be made in educating and retaining nurses in health and aged care workplaces. The ICN says “It is clear that while there is a nursing shortage in many countries, just adding more nurses is not the solution and improving the work environment is a key aspect of improving patient safety and the quality of health care”.
We encourage you to join in locally run celebrations on 5 May and 12 May, or, if you can’t see anything that has been organised, then ask your health service or aged care facility to host an event - this could be a morning or afternoon tea or a BBQ for staff to say thank you to their nurses and/or midwives.
The policy work of ANMF attests to the broad reach into our community that nurses and midwives have as they seek to make a difference in people’s lives - literally from ‘the cradle to the grave’. The Federation, like ICM and ICN, advocates that investing in nurses and midwives makes economic sense. Our publication Ensuring quality, safety and positive patient outcomes: Why investing in nursing makes $ense (2009) remains relevant in demonstrating the value and contributions nurses make to positive patient outcomes. We argue there is a tangible economic and human benefit associated with access to quality nursing and midwifery care.
Visit the ANMF website to discover the range of issues covered by our policies, position statements and submissions to government and health and aged care bodies. All of these promote and celebrate the essential work of nurses and midwives in improving the health of our community. Likewise, access policies from the ICM and ICN, which also provide guidance for nurses and midwives in daily practice, contributing to global health and wellbeing.
Join with us, during May, in giving special recognition to nurses and midwives: their intervention saves lives. That’s worth celebrating!
Julianne Bryce and Elizabeth Foley
Federal Professional Officers