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International Nurses Day 2016
12 May 2016

International Nurses Day is celebrated annually on 12 May. This date was chosen as it is the birth date of Florence Nightingale, to whom nursing owes much of its values and practices. The commemoration is used to raise awareness of international trends and policy shifts in health care among nurses, health care workers, governments and the public at large. Each year the International Council of Nursing (ICN) assigns a theme to the day. The theme for 2016 is 'Nurses: a force for change: improving health systems' resilience'.

Nurses play a significant role in developing and maintaining resilience in health systems. They contribute to service development; supervise and develop other members of the team; work with and advocate for patients, their care-givers and their communities; and collect data and inform the development of evidence.

As the single largest group of health care professionals, with a presence in all settings, nurses can have an enormous impact on the resilience of health systems. Every decision that is made in practice can make a significant difference in the efficiency and effectiveness of the entire system.

The role of public health in building and strengthening health systems and increasing their resilience is a priority for all nurses. Investing in health promotion and the prevention of illness and disease can positively impact society by minimising the demand placed on the health system by people in ill health, and by contributing to to the economy as citizens would be healthier and more productive.

Nurses are best positioned to build and strengthen health systems. They have an ethical and professional responsibility to provide quality health care services to all people in need. As committed, innovative and solution-oriented professionals, nurses provide care with resilience and versatility. Improving the resilience of health systems, however, requires collaboration with other health professionals and decision-makers. Nurses, who provide health care services in collaboration with colleagues in both health and non-health sectors, have an important role in this process.

In order for nurses to influence and shape decisions, it is essential that they clearly understand how policy is made and implemented, as well as its wider context. They have a responsibility to engage in research and to develop innovative models of care delivery that will contribute evidence of nursing effectiveness to planning, management and policy development. Dissemination of research on the value of nursing is a vital component of advocacy and influencing health policy.


- Author Prof FM Mulaudzi, Head of the Department of Nursing Science
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Last edited by Fayette LeydsEdit