Celebrating nurses and midwives on World Health Day

World Health Day

World Health Day

On this World Health Day, we celebrate nurses and midwives, and the critical role they play in keeping our communities safe and healthy.

The important contribution of nurses, midwives and other healthcare workers can often be overlooked, but the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded the world of the essential and life-saving work they do.

Nurses and other healthcare workers are at the forefront of the COVID-19 response – they continue to provide essential, high-quality care and comfort to those in need, often in the most difficult of circumstances. Without question, healthcare workers are the backbone of the response and without them, there would be no response.

To all healthcare workers who continue to provide care to their communities: we recognize, value, and respect the work you do in keeping the world safe and healthy. Thank you.


We are nurses

Hatixhe Gorenca, nurse, Albania.

In December 2015, the Albanian Centre of Population and Development (ACPD), began a campaign to increase women’s access to healthcare in rural areas. An alternative, faster and cost-effective cervical cancer screening tool and treatment plan were developed – a method known as VIA and cryotherapy.

Hatixhe Gorenca is a nurse at the Albanian Centre of Population and Development (ACPD) clinic in Tirana. She joined the center in 2013 with 39 years of experience working in gynaecology. During her time as a nurse, she has seen vast improvements in access and services for cervical cancer screenings. However, she says that there is a considerable number of women in rural areas that face difficulties in accessing healthcare, and some that cannot access it at all.

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Nurse Querina Antonio with Nilza Vitorino and her newborn at the accommodation center Dugudiua, Nicoadala, Zambezia province, Mozambique.

Querina Antonio, nurse, Mozambique.

On the evening of 14 March 2019, Cyclone Idai made landfall in the city of Beira in central Mozambique. In Mozambique alone, more than 130,000 people had to seek shelter in the 136 accommodation centers that were set up across the county.

The Associação Moçambicana para Desenvolvimento da Família (AMODEFA), IPPF’s Member Association in Mozambique, responded in the most affected areas of Mozambique. AMODEFA is still there providing sexual and reproductive awareness and services.

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Vika Finau, nurse, Tonga.

Vika Finau, TFHA nurse and part of the emergency response team, talks about her experience encouraging women to have a pap smear in Tonga: “The challenge is encouraging them to come forward, they keep hesitating because of the procedure. They have to expose their genital area. Twenty women might agree to come for pap smear and at the end only nine or ten will come forward.”

Once a woman is receiving a pap smear, however, Vika can gently broach the subject of sexual and reproductive health issues, and screen for signs of gender-based violence.

It’s in this way that emergencies can create opportunities that wouldn’t have otherwise been there. IPPF’s emergency responses provide services, as well as information, often at the same time.

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We are midwives

Midwife Desire Manirakiza checks Mshirimana Florence, 22, who is in labour with her first child at ABUBEF clinic in Bujumbura.

Desire Manirakiza, midwife, Burundi.

Association Burundaise pour le Bien-Etre Familial, (ABUBEF) set up in 1991, provides a range of essential services, with a strong focus on HIV. Around 84,000 people are living with HIV in Burundi, of whom 12,000 are children under 14.

ABUBEF’s focus is on HIV prevention and management: from youth-friendly counselling to programmes to prevent mother-to-child transmission.

The withdrawal of US funding due to the Global Gag Rule will drastically reduce and, in some instances, close ABUBEF’s vital healthcare services and programmes. It is estimated that loss of funding to ABUBEF through the global gag rule will deny 117,016 people access to safe, sexual and reproductive healthcare. ABUBEF currently supports around 2, 123 people with anti-retroviral treatment, who will be affected by the cuts.

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Betty Gueye, midwife, Senegal.

Betty Guèye is a midwife who used to live in Guediawaye but moved to Dakar after the closure of the clinic in the suburb of Senegal’s capital following global gag rule (GGR) funding cuts. She describes the effects of the closure and how Association Sénégalaise pour le Bien-Etre Familial (ASBEF) staff try to maximise the reduced service they still offer.

“Since the clinic closed in this town everything has been very difficult. The majority of Senegalese are poor and we are losing clients because they cannot access the main clinic in Dakar. If they have an appointment on a Monday, after the weekend they won’t have the 200 francs (35 US cents) needed for the bus, and they will wait until Tuesday or Wednesday to come even though they are in pain.”

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Fatima, midwife, Palestine.

"Since I have worked here, I have seen changes in society’s acceptance of sexual and reproductive health issues and I feel that more people are supporting us. They can be women, religious personalities or young volunteers."

Women and girls in Palestine face a number of difficulties and challenges. The ongoing occupation and lack of sitting government as well as high unemployment has led to poverty and inequality, while an increasingly conservative society and traditionally patriarchal culture has led to increased gender-inequality and lack of access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. The current abortion law unfairly pushes women to risk their lives and health to attempt to end their unwanted pregnancies in unsafe ways.

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