History, Theme, Significance and other details


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International Nurses Day is observed every year on May 12 to honour nurses all over the world. The day was celebrated for the first time by The International Council of Nurses- ICN in 1965.

In 1953, an official of the US health, education, and welfare department, Dorothy Sunderland had proposed to President Dwight D. Eisenhower to proclaim ‘Nurses Day’ which he did not approve.

However, in 1974, May 12 was chosen to be celebrated as International Nurses Day. The date is also the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, who was born on this day in 1820. She was the founder of modern nursing and is perhaps the world’s most famous nurse. Florence Nightingale was an English nurse, a social reformer as well as a statistician.

Theme for International Nurses Day 2021:

The theme for the International Nurses Day 2021 is Nurses: A Voice to Lead- A Vision for Future Healthcare.

Know the history of the day: Who was Florence Nightingale?

Florence Nightingale, on whose birth anniversary this day is celebrated, was also known as the Lady with the Lamp. She started working as a nurse in charge of the British and the allied soldiers who were wounded during the Crimean War. She spent most of her time caring for the injured soldiers-often late into the night.

Founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale was the first to establish formal training for the nurses.

The first nursing school known as Nightingale School of Nursing was inaugurated in 1860 in London. She also played a significant role in setting up a training school for the midwives as well. She became the first woman to be awarded the Order of Merit 1907.

In her lifetime, Florence Nightingale also made various efforts in improving the health condition of all the sections of British society. She advocated for better hunger relief for India and helped in abolishing prostitution laws in England that were extremely harsh.

What makes this day significant?

As the world battles the deadly Coronavirus pandemic, the roles of nurses at the forefront of this battle cannot be ignored. Nurses, like doctors and other healthcare workers, have been continuously providing care without any kind of break. They are often the only health professionals that the people see while going through a health crisis.

The International Nurses Day 2021 assumes greater significance. The day must be taken to express gratitude to all the nurses and health workers around the world for their invaluable services in these difficult times.

Nurses during COVID-19 pandemic:

According to the International Council of Nurses, more than 1.6 million health workers in 34 countries have been infected by the Coronavirus as of December 31, 2020.

As per the World Health Organisation, nurses account for more than half of all the world’s health workers. However, as the health infrastructure has been affected enormously, the countries are seeing a shortage of nurses worldwide with 5.9 million more nurses still needed. The problem is prevalent, particularly in low and middle-income countries.



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