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“International Nurses Day, May 12: Recognising Dedication and Respect for Lifelong Service”

International Nurses Day, celebrated annually on May 12th, commemorates the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, hailed as the pioneer of modern nursing. Established by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) in 1965, it gained official recognition in 1974. This day, nestled within Nurses Week from May 6th to 12th, serves as a global tribute to the invaluable contributions of nurses worldwide.

Preceding International Nurses Day, the ICN unveiled its latest report titled ‘Our Nurses, Our Future’ on May 8th, aligning with this year’s theme: ‘Our Nurses, Our Future. The economic power of care.’ The report underscores the economic and social significance of investments in nursing, advocating for the reinforcement of primary care nursing to bolster global life expectancy and achieve universal health coverage by 2030. However, realising this vision necessitates substantial investment across all nursing sectors, with a recommended ratio of 70 nurses per 10,000 population in each country.

Florence Nightingale’s legacy continues to inspire. Born on May 12, 1820, in Florence, Italy, she revolutionised nursing during the Crimean War, earning the moniker ‘The Lady with the Lamp’ for her nocturnal vigilance over wounded soldiers. Her meticulous research revealed that inadequate sanitation, rather than battle wounds, was the primary cause of mortality among soldiers. In 1860, she founded the world’s first nursing school at St. Thomas’s Hospital in London, laying the groundwork for professional nursing education globally. Her indelible contributions earned her the Order of Merit from the British government in 1907. Nightingale passed away on August 13, 1910, leaving an enduring legacy in modern healthcare.

Today, nursing stands as a profession brimming with global career opportunities. Despite comprising 59% of healthcare professionals worldwide, the looming shortage of nurses projected by the World Health Organisation—estimated at ten million by 2030—underscores the urgent need for action. In Ireland, a significant portion of the nursing workforce, particularly those of Indian origin, enriches the healthcare landscape. Their versatility spans clinical practice, management, education, and research, affirming their indispensable role in healthcare delivery.

As we celebrate International Nurses Day, let us honour the unwavering dedication of nurses who selflessly serve humanity. They are the bedrock of the healthcare system, embodying compassion and expertise in every act of care. Their tireless efforts, often unheralded, resonate through history, shaping a healthier world for generations to come. Today and every day, let us extend our heartfelt gratitude to these unsung heroes who illuminate our lives with their boundless compassion and commitment.


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