World Health Day was created in 1950, by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is celebrated annually in order to draw attention to an important subject of global health each year. And this year’s theme could not be more relevant to what is currently happening in the world…
Some of the themes in years past include “Should Disaster Strike, Be Prepared” (1991), “Road Safety” (2004), “Antimicrobial Resistance: No Action Today, No Cure Tomorrow” (2011), and “Depression: Let’s Talk” (2017).
A variety of local, national, and international events are arranged to educate the public as well as policy makers about a specific aspect of WHO’s work. Some events have included conferences and training for health care workers, briefings for local politicians, and informative visual aids geared toward children. Depending on the theme for that year, public marches and demonstrations may take place, as well as free or easy access to certain medical testing.
WHO was founded on April 7, 1948, and since then, have implemented a wide range of public health strategies. “WHO works worldwide to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable.”
The World Health Organization has done a great deal of valuable work around the world, including collaborating on vaccines, disease testing and treatment, and the global eradication of smallpox.
Now, nearly 200 countries are members of the organization, and currently, in order to combat COVID-19, WHO is working around the clock to “analyze data, provide advice, coordinate with partners, help countries prepare, increase supplies, and manage expert networks.”
So what is this year’s theme and why is it so pertinent? The theme for 2020 is “ Support Nurses and Midwives.” As stated on their website, they are celebrating the work of nurses and midwives as well as reminding world leaders of the critical role nurses and midwives play in keeping the world healthy.
“Nurses and other health workers are at the forefront of COVID-19 response-providing high quality, respectful treatment and care, leading community dialogue to address fears and questions, and, in some instances, collecting data for clinical studies.”
The theme for World Health Day was set long before the devastating effects of the coronavirus started to take shape. All healthcare workers are sacrificing and giving so much of themselves to not only help those patients very ill from COVID-19, but also trying to prevent the spread of the virus. “Quite simply, without nurses, there would be no response.” (WHO)
As a nurse myself, I know firsthand that nurses give 100% of ourselves to the care of our patients, often putting the needs of others before our own. It is draining, discouraging, exhausting, demanding, very stressful work. There are days full of frustration, heartache, and tears. But there are also days that are extremely rewarding, full of happiness, joy, accomplishment, and pride. We do it because we love our jobs, and we love taking care of people. Even retired doctors, nurses, and respiratory care therapists are returning to work during this crisis. Now more than ever, nurses and other healthcare workers need our support as they are on the frontlines battling COVID-19.
If you sew, consider making PPE to donate to your local hospitals. This is not being blown out of proportion; our healthcare workers do not have the supplies they need in order to protect themselves and all of their patients. We would never send our military to war unarmed, why should we expect this of our healthcare workers?
Even if they have PPE, it is in short supply. Healthcare workers are being forced to reuse supplies that are intended to be disposed of after a single use. That’s like having your child throw up all over your clothes that you have to wear indefinitely, without changing. Oh, and the vomit could seriously harm or kill you and anyone else you come into contact with. Healthcare workers should not have to scrounge for supplies necessary to do their jobs.
Countless nurses have been interviewed or posted on social media that they do not feel supported, and the situation is, quite simply: chaos. Medical staff presenting with symptoms of COVID-19 are not getting the testing they need. They are putting their own lives and the lives of their families on the line, day in and day out. They are the only person present with a patient as they die. This is real, and this is happening right here in America and around the world.
Send an email or call your member of Congress; they need to be doing everything in their power to increase PPE distribution and prioritize health care personnel. I have sent an email through the American Nurses Association website.
What happens when doctors and nurses themselves contract COVID-19? Who is going to take care of sick patients? What do we do when we no longer have staff to address any sort of medical issue, not just the coronavirus? This is what is occurring. It is not a drill.
There is growing scientific evidence that we can reduce the transmission of COVID-19 if we all wear masks when in public. Countries that are successfully managing COVID-19, such as South Korea, Japan and Czech Republic, have made it compulsory for all citizens to wear masks in public.
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT buy N95 masks or medical respirators; these are in short supply and should only be used by medical professionals who need them.
Wearing a mask whenever you leave your house is a significant way we can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Homemade masks are less for your protection and more for the protection of others; if you are infected with COVID-19, you may not even know it. (When you contract COVID-19, you are considered contagious immediately; it can take up to 2 weeks for symptoms to appear, and researchers are now discovering that many people have the virus and develop no symptoms at all. Which means we could be spreading the virus to others without even knowing it.)
Please read the information on this subject, as it is vitally important. Here is a video on how to make a homemade mask at home using an old t-shirt. I followed this video and it worked really well. It was easy to do, and it could potentially save lives.
Wash your hands. A lot. If they’re not dry, cracked, and bleeding, you’re not doing it enough. Welcome to the life of a nurse.
How to wash your hands (CDC).
Why we wash our hands (CDC).
Handwashing to protect against COVID-19 (UNICEF).
Sanitize and disinfect frequently used surfaces and practice safe social distancing.
And most importantly, above all else, stay home. Let me say that again: STAY. HOME. Unless your job is absolutely necessary and contributes to the wellbeing, safety, and survival of your community, do not go out. You may be a carrier of COVID-19 and have no symptoms, but you can pass it to a multitude of other people. Or you yourself may become extremely ill and end up in hospital. Unless you are compulsory staff, nothing is worth that risk.
Tired of being in isolation? Stop going out unnecessarily! I cannot stress this enough. If we all stay home now, we can work to get COVID-19 under control and get back to our daily lives. My husband and I have been self-isolating for over a month now. Please be responsible. Until everyone complies, we will continue to be under a lockdown as the virus spreads.
This post was originally meant to advocate for the nursing profession as well as for the health benefits of a plant-based diet. However, in light of the current healthcare crisis happening before our eyes, I felt it was much more significant to discuss how we can help our overworked nurses and medical staff and prevent our healthcare system from collapse.
If you or a loved one are on the front lines of this, I thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. You are the true heroes of this world. I would love to connect with you and hear your personal stories. Any tips or suggestions you could share with us would be amazing as well. Thank you for all that you do. Please let us know how we can better support you ❤️