Population Services International


Nurses unite to demand universal public health

To mark International Nurses’ Day on May 12, millions of nurses around the world are calling on governments to commit to universal public health. “As we rebuild from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, we must transform the way societies are organised. We must organise our societies around the capacity to care. We must all recognise the union adage – Touch One Touch All – if our healthcare systems cannot care for all, we are all at risk” rightly said Kate Lappin, Regional Secretary of Public Services International (PSI) for Asia and the Pacific. This year 2020 becomes significant as the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, in honour of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. Nurses have been on the frontlines of healthcare even during emergencies and other crises situations historically. Despite facing a real danger of contracting the COVID-19, they are also facing the real threats to their labour laws and rights. walk the talk on celebrating role of nurses in health security “Along with recognizing the important work nurses are doing, we also need to raise our political demands as we look ahead in the future having to deal with pandemics and infectious disease as part of our lives” said Wol-san Liem, Director of International Affairs, Korean Public Service and Transport Workers’ Union, South Korea. South Korean response to COVID-19 was relatively better than most other nations with 2-3% of infections occurring among healthcare workers, 10 of which were among those who were caring for COVID-19 patients. South Korea provides national health insurance which became critical in face of the pandemic, but it does not have enough public hospitals. A closer look exposes the need for more work to be done to “ensure nurses and other healthcare workers stay safe so that they are able to continue to save lives” said Wol-san Liem. For instance, by mid-February public hospitals were overwhelmed with the COVID-19 pandemic, putting nurses under acute pressure. There was a severe lack of nursing capacity, particularly of nurses, who were trained in infectious diseases…