ROME — Pope Francis marked International Nurses Day Tuesday by calling on the nations of the world to invest more in healthcare coverage for their citizens.
In many countries, the coronavirus pandemic has “brought to light a number of deficiencies in the provision of health care,” the pope said in his message to nurses and midwives. “For this reason, I would ask leaders of nations throughout the world to invest in health care as the primary common good, by strengthening its systems and employing a greater numbers of nurses, so as to ensure adequate care to everyone.”
Francis also said that nurses and midwives deserve greater public recognition for “the essential role your profession plays in patient care, local emergency activity, disease prevention, health promotion, and assistance in family, community and school settings.”
“At this critical moment, marked by the global health emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we have rediscovered the fundamental importance of the role being played by nurses and midwives,” the pontiff said.
The pope thanked nurses for their “testimony of courage and sacrifice” in assisting people affected by the virus, “even to the point of putting their own health at risk.”
He also held up the example of the “high number of healthcare workers who have died as a result of their faithful service,” adding that he prays for them as well as for all the victims of this epidemic.
Nurses have a very special vocation, that of being “good Samaritans who are concerned for the life and suffering of others,” he said. “They are guardians and preservers of life, who, even as they administer necessary treatments, offer courage, hope and trust.”
Nurses and midwives are among the “saints next door,” Francis said, and serve as an image of the Church as a “field hospital” that continues to carry out the mission of Jesus Christ, “who drew near to and healed people with all kinds of sickness and who stooped down to wash the feet of his disciples.”
The pope concluded by expressing his wish that the annual celebration of International Nurses Day might “highlight the dignity of your work for the benefit of the health of society as a whole” as he offered them his apostolic blessing.