Sri Lanka joined the world to mark International Nurses’ Day on May 12 with the theme being ‘Nurses: A Force for Change: Improving the Resilience of the Health Service.’ In January 1974, May 12 was chosen as International Nurses’ Day as it marks the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, who is widely considered the founder of modern nursing and was made famous in the book titled ‘The Lady with the Lamp’. The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has celebrated this day since 1965. Each year, ICN prepares and distributes the International Nurses’ Day Kit which contains educational and public information material for use by nurses.
Florence Nightingale was a celebrated English social reformer, statistician and the founder of modern nursing. She came to prominence while serving as a manager of nurses trained by her during the Crimean War, where she monitored the caring of wounded soldiers. She gave nursing a high status and became an icon of Victorian culture, especially in the persona of “The Lady with the Lamp” making rounds of wounded soldiers at night. In 1860, Florence Nightingale laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. The Nightingale Pledge. It is a modified version of the Hippocratic Oath taken by medical doctors. The oath proclaims:
“I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly to pass my life in purity and to practise my profession faithfully. I shall abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and shall not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I shall do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. I shall be loyal to my work and devoted towards the welfare of those committed to
If such oaths are practised, indeed it would take us towards the dream where the health or patient-care service including nursing is regarded as a vocation with the patient being sacred. In Sri Lanka, though nurses in recent months especially have been dragged into party politics, President Maithripala Sirisena pledged on May 10 that the government would provide the required funds immediately to set up a Nursing Faculty at the University of Colombo to award Nursing Degrees. Addressing a meeting with the Government Nursing Officers’Association, President Sirisena said he discussed with the union the details of the Nursing Degree Faculty, recruitment of Public Health Nurses and the filling of vacancies. The President revealed that from the 2016 Budget, Rs.2,500 mn had been allocated to give thousands of nurses the additional cap of a graduate. The President pointed out that while Sri Lanka needed about 40,000 nurses the cadre at present was only 31,000. The President also expressed concern that when unions made demands they often focused only on their career needs. He urged the nurses’ union and others to propose new creative or imaginative ideas to achieve national goals of unity, good governance, democracy and social justice.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe presided at another ceremony at Temple Trees on Thursday to mark International Nurses Day. The Premier and Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne also announced the setting up of the nursing faculty to award degrees to highly trained nurses. The premier also gave portraits of Florence Nightingale to be put in a special place in hospitals so that nurses would remember their commitment to give loving care and show kindness to patients so that their goal and vision would be to be like the, ‘The Lady with the Lamp’.