On Sunday, 12 May 2019, the birthdate of Florence Nightingale, nurses around the world celebrated the International Nurses Day (IND) with the theme Nurses: A Voice to Lead Health for All.
Florence Nightingale, the founder of professional nursing, was about heath and prevention as much as treating sickness, and the world needs her here now to preach her message: “The great and novel principle was established that it was as much a part of the duty of the authorities to look after the soldier’s health as to look after his sickness.”
Each year, 15 million people aged 30-69 die from a preventable non-communicable disease (NCD) a disease that is not transmissible directly from one person to another. Most NCDs are preventable and most fall heavily on the poorest and most vulnerable: those in low and middle income countries and the poorest people living in some of the wealthiest countries.
The global NCD epidemic can be significantly reduced if we all take action now to address the key risk factors, such as tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, poor diet and physical inactivity. Why are our media not shouting out that we can prevent millions of deaths a year, but choose not to? It requires a tremendous effort to prevent disease, to lessen risky behaviours, and to deal with the social, economic, and environmental contexts that shape these risk factors and health. A recent WHO report made clear that there is not enough political will, capacity and action on NCDs. Reducing the burden of premature death and illness requires putting health in all policies, involving the whole of government and the whole of society to improve individual and community health and wellbeing.
Health professionals are among those best placed to give the trusted, accurate advice needed to prevent NCDs. We, at C3, work with health professionals (particularly nurses) to enhance their own knowledge and adopt healthy lifestyles. NURSING YOU is an app that enables nurses to reflect on how they make decisions at work and to identify wellbeing goals, such as how to help maintain a healthier weight or drink more water. The app includes wellbeing assessments, tracking functions, and recipes and health tips.
Through these initiatives health professionals can become advocates for their patients, families and communities. There are more than 20 million nurses and midwives worldwide. In some countries, nurses are the only health professionals that people encounter.
Imagine the progress that could be made in non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention if all 20 million of those nurses were supported with the right knowledge, skills and opportunities to promote healthy lifestyles and were determined to change things. As Miss Nightingale said: Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.
Read more about C3’s work with health professionals.