International Council of Nurses President Annette Kennedy reviews the organization's contribution to nursing during the COVID-19 pandemic. She describes the Council’s efforts to support nurses around the world and bring its National Nursing Associations together to share their experiences and best practices, and the lessons learned with other nations who are at different stages of the pandemic.
The full story of the COVID-19 pandemic will not be known for years, but when it is finally written, nurses and nursing will run throughout its narrative as a golden thread that touched hundreds of millions of people and saved countless lives.
The International Council of Nurses (ICN) is proud of its role to date in supporting nurses around the world to do their jobs as safely and effectively as possible. We will continue to do so for as long as COVID-19 poses a threat, wherever and whenever that may be. From the outset, ICN was quick to recognize the potential harm the pandemic could do, and the unique part nurses would have to play if there was to be any chance that it could be contained and controlled.
It soon became clear that the virus was not contained where it originated and that it was moving around the globe at lightning speed, thanks to the ubiquity of international travel and the often slow efforts from governments to lock down their borders and restrict internal movements of people. Balancing the health of a nation with its economic well-being was always going to be an unenviable and delicate political process, one which some governments managed far better than others.
Nurses did their best as many healthcare systems became overwhelmed by the sheer number of patients who required intensive care and treatment, and they often had to do so without adequate supplies of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and other essential equipment. That was a scandal that should never have happened, and we can only hope that lessons will be learned, and that it will never happen again.