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The Nightingales’ fight, plight and flight

Nurses have always taken a backseat in whatever issue the world was struggling with until Covid-19.

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Ironic as it may sound but as early as November 2019, just when the World Health Organization announced that 2020 was going to be the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, a pandemic was also looming to conquer the world. And so, the celebratory mood was replaced by fears and tears.

Nurses have always taken a backseat in whatever issue the world was struggling with until Covid-19. This pandemic revealed the weaknesses of health care systems, the divisiveness of societies and the worst among humans. But it also showed the strength of kindness, the courage of the few and the gift of nurses.

Yes, despite the dangers, nurses did not falter; they went to work with the resolve to show the world they are going to win against an unseen enemy; they did not hesitate; they opened their arms to anyone who needed caring, and they never complained; until someone said they needed more than they deserved. These are what they struggle with every day.

Yes, nurses are angels in scrubs, but they are also human. They have needs, they have families, they get tired. They can be snubbish, but they never fail to give one a smile; they can be dismissive, but they will always be there when someone needs a hand; they can be tough, but they also shed tears for every life lost. These are the conditions they continue to live with.

Yes, many have left and continue to plan on leaving; not the people they pledged to take care of but the society that refuses to acknowledge their existence and contributions.

The choices they make is never for themselves, but for families who know their worth. The choices of destination are never for themselves but for friends who they want to reconnect with to be able to feel like home despite the distance. The choice of practice is never for themselves but for the people they know need them. These are the reasons they flee.

Twenty-twenty was Florence Nightingale’s 200th birth anniversary; after two centuries, her light cannot be dimmed despite the darkness of the world; after two centuries, her light brings hope to the weary and continues to guide those who chose to follow the path she took when she decided to change the world.

As another year passes with no end to Covid, let us learn from the humblest of professions; resilience is not worth it unless coupled with accountability; courage is not worth it unless coupled with concrete changes and a dialogue is not worth it if those you know need to listen deny you a seat at the table.

As Florence Nightingale herself once said: “To be ‘in charge’ is certainly not only to carry out the proper measures yourself but to see that everyone else does so, too.”

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