On 7 April 1948, the World Health Organisation was founded as a vital arm of the United Nations. The WHO works to strengthen healthcare systems around the world, conduct research, and protect the world’s population from diseases of all kinds.
Each year, 7 April is celebrated as World Health Day to mark the anniversary of WHO’s establishment. This year, we are more grateful than ever for the healthcare workers around the world who are fighting on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The WHO announces a theme for World Health Day each year. The tagline for 2020 is Support Nurses and Midwives. The WHO and its partners will be working to highlight the importance of nurses and midwives and bring them vital support. This is essential in achieving national and global targets related to universal health coverage, maternal and child health, infectious and non-communicable diseases including mental health, emergency preparedness and response, patient safety and the delivery of integrated, people-centered care, amongst others.
Without the essential work of nurses around the world, all those infected by the coronavirus would go without high-quality, respectful treatment and care. Nurses have also played a critical role in collecting essential data for clinical studies. and opening dialogues within communities to answer questions, give advice, and assuage fears.
Midwives offering birth facilitation at home as well as postnatal home care are also of critical importance at a time when our hospitals are straining under the pressure of a pandemic.
Staying home unless you absolutely have to leave to acquire essential goods and services continues to be the number one thing you can do to assist health workers in the fight against COVID-19. That means no sneaky jogs, dog walking or non-essential grocery shops (try to limit the number of times you will need to go shopping as much as possible by planning ahead and creating an extensive shopping list that includes canned foods, frozen fruit and veggies, and other long-lasting items).
Educate Yourself (and Others)
There is a wealth of misinformation about COVID-19 out there, especially on social media and other online platforms. Make sure to equip yourself with up-to-date facts and accurate statistics so that you can identify false news, and correct people when they share misleading information or articles about the pandemic. Check out the South African Government’s official coronavirus information hub for everything you need to know about the pandemic.
South Africa’s blood banks are running dangerously low, and it is essential that our hospitals have sufficient resources during this time. Your blood saves lives, and making a donation is a quick and harmless way that you can make a huge difference. Check out the South Africa National Blood Service’s website for a list of donation locations, donor requirements and FAQs regarding blood donations and COVID-19.
Many kind-hearted South Africans have taken to sewing simple face masks to be handed out to people who may be vulnerable to the virus, such as senior citizens in retirement homes, or patients in paediatric and psych wards. There are a number of resources online that show you how to put together an effective face masks.
If you have the means, consider donating to worthwhile charities that are supporting healthcare workers, such as the Solidarity Fund, which woks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, monitor statistics, support victims, and provide care for those infected. Taking into consideration the tagline for 2020’s World Health Day, consider supporting local nursing and midwifery institutions, such as the team at Birth Options who offer antenatal care, birth facilitation in the hospital or at home, and provide postnatal home care.
Our beloved healthcare practitioners are engaged in a fierce battle right now, and they cannot fight it alone. No matter how small or insignificant you may feel, you CAN make a difference. Be a hero today.