Closing the gap: increasing access and equity in health is the theme for International Nurses Day tomorrow 12 May – Florence Nightingale’s birthday.
New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) president Nano Tunnicliff said the links between poverty and ill health were fundamental nursing issues. “Nurses have a professional and ethical responsibility to address health inequities and NZNO believes closing the gaps must be a priority for nursing practice, nursing education and nursing research,” she says.
“While International Nurses Day is a time to celebrate the nursing profession, there seems little to celebrate when 25 percent of New Zealand children live in poverty and when Māori and Pacific people suffered considerably poorer health than other New Zealanders.”
“What we should celebrate is the fact our profession can and does have a huge impact on improving health inequities. When we achieve the professional autonomy and legislative environment to enable us to work to our full potential, we will be able to improve health access and equity greatly,” Tunnicliff says.
Associate Health Minister Jonathon Coleman spoke briefly to nurses at a function on the eve of International Nurses Day. Other speakers at the function were Te Runanga o Aotearoa NZNO kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku and chair of NZNO Pacific nursing group, Siloma Masina, who both spoke on the devastating impact of health inequities Māori and Pacific people.
International Nurses Day is marked in a variety of ways around the country, including award ceremonies for outstanding nurses at many district health boards, the launch of a nursing history book in Christchurch, and a humorous debate between nurses and managers, with the moot Shortland St and Nelson Marlborough District Health Board have a lot in common.