Healthcare workers in 11 countries mark International Nurses Week

Leading nurse and healthcare union organisations in 11 countries in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe are holding coordinated actions marking International Nurses Week with a call to step up efforts to promote patient safety, protect health care services and ensure access to health care for all with a common theme of ‘Health Care is a Human Right’.

Hundreds of nurses and other health workers marched on Monday in the US in Washington, DC, Chicago and Sacramento, Ca. and in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, and South Africa.

Nurses and health workers held associated actions, or will in the coming days, in Australia, Canada, Ireland, the Philippines and South Korea.

The various actions include calls to enact new measures to protect patient safety, including the passage of legislation for safe staffing laws, stop the privatisation of health services, take action against the harmful health effects of climate change and a call for enactment of the Robin Hood tax on trades of stocks, bonds and other financial instruments to raise needed revenue for basic human needs.

In each country, the actions are led by affiliates of Global Nurses United, an international federation of nurses and healthcare worker unions across the globe formed in June last year in San Francisco.

Leaders of the organisations pledged to work together on a program of issues emphasising that health care must be a right for all people, as well as opposition to austerity measures, especially cuts in health care services, privatisation and promoting secure safe patient care, especially with safe nurse-to-patient ratios, and safe health care workplaces.

Among the major actions:

Australia (Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation) – workplace activities in 137 hospitals and aged care facilities across Queensland, as well as actions in New South Wales to raise public awareness about the fight against breast cancer and other actions.

Brazil (Federação Nacional dos Enfermeiros) – mobilization of nurses at the national capital in Brasilia followed by a public hearing.

Canada (Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions and Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec) — a national “wear white” protest campaign to push for safe staffing and defend patient safety, along with workplace protests and street rallies.

Dominican Republic (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de Enfermeria) – marches in the cities of Santo Domingo, Santiago, Barahona and San Pedro de Macorís demanding a bigger budget for public health and against the privatization of health services.

Guatemala (Sindicato Nacional de los Trabadores de Salud de Guatemala) – a picket in Guatemala City at the Congress of the Republic demanding passage of the Robin Hood Tax to protect public health care services.

Honduras (Asociation Nacional de Enfermeras/os Auxiliares de Honduras) – marches across the country, including a march in Tegucigalpa to the seat of the national government in support of nurses and the public health care system.

Ireland (Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation) – the launch of a safe staffing campaign.

Philippines (Alliance of Health Workers) – major protest last week in Manila to stand up for health care workers and public health care and against privatisation.

South Africa (Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa) – events, under the theme “Nurses: A Force for Change, A vital Resource for Health” across the country through May 29.

South Korea (Korean Health and Medical Workers Union) – a national tour that began last week continuing until May 23 in opposition to health care privatisation, along with the announcement of a new study emphasising the need for improved staffing.

United States (National Nurses United) – a gathering of 500 registered nurses in Sacramento to press for passage of legislation to demand passage of a package of bills to improve patient care, a rally in Washington DC to push for passage of safe staffing legislation in district hospitals, and in Chicago a tour of polluting petroleum coke sites and a push for a city moratorium on petcoke operations, storage and transport due to the severe adverse effects on public health.

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