Nurses Called To Rebrand Their Profession

What you need to know:

  • Healthcare workers’ industrial action should not supersede patient care.
  • An honest re-evaluation of the role of the Kenyan nurse is timely.

That ‘nurses are the backbone of healthcare’ is a statement that has been repeated many times, as if it comes straight from the Holy Mountain.

It has, however, not helped much with the amplification of the role of the nurse and midwife. The World Health Organization (WHO) even extended the celebration of nurses and midwives from 2020 to 2021.

Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant claps and half-hearted ululations for healthcare workers, the world has quickly moved on.

The bravado accompanying the strike by the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) to agitate for better terms is contrasted by the whimpers and blank stares that characterized its calling off.

There was a concerted effort from the government to address nurses’ woes. Kenyans heralded the call for improved remuneration and risk allowance. There seemed to be white smoke until there was none. But KNUN adopted a hard-line approach.

Patient care

Healthcare workers’ industrial action should not supersede patient care. It must be aimed at resolution of the differences and tempering pressures for the workers. This strike offered a chance for the KNUN leadership to showcase the role of the nurse, capitalizing on the pandemic.

But we were treated to half-coherent screams and threats which, sadly, failed to capture the spirit of the profession.

Industrial action may be protected by international labor laws but employers reserve the right to give in to demands or not to. The same Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) that declared the country too broke to cater for the nurses’ demands found enough funds to give MCAs car grants. That’s a sign of a change of strategy.

An honest re-evaluation of the role of the Kenyan nurse is timely. Contrary to common belief, nurses are not under the chaperonage of medical doctors. Nursing is an autonomous profession guided by evidence-based practice and a rich body of theoretical foundation. Nurses assess, investigate and interpret clinical and non-clinical data to arrive at a diagnosis geared towards full health and wellbeing.

Go the extra mile

Nurses go the extra mile of caring not only for the patient but the family and community at large. Caring is not a character trait found in every human being. It is even more tasking when you have to learn how to care for others at their worst as part of your job.

Probably, this led the WHO to have “Nursing the World Back to Health” as the theme for the Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020-2021.

Nurses must be strong enough to eliminate the misconception that only doctors understand complex pathologies and physiologies. Let them show us what they have and do it with a touch of class.

Doing this has the dual effect of raising the standards of nursing and attracting more students to the profession. If we are to meet the WHO-recommended nurse-to-patient ratio of 1:5, then we must train and register as many nurses as possible.

Ms. Maina, a UK-registered nurse, is a BsN student at the University of Derby, England. @Catemimi1772


Let’s flatten the infodemic curve, WHO says


 We are all being exposed to a huge amount of COVID-19 information on a daily basis, and not all of it is reliable. Here are some tips for telling the difference and stopping the spread of misinformation.

Due to COVID-19, most of us have a new word in our vocabulary: epidemiology. It is the branch of medical science that deals with the ways diseases are transmitted and can be controlled in a population. Now it is time to learn another new word: infodemiology.

As humans, we are a curious and innovative species. We want to understand the world around us and stay up to date on the challenges we face and how to overcome them. One of the ways we do this is by seeking out and sharing information – lots of it. Even scientists around the world are working hard to keep up with the thousands of studies that have come out since COVID-19 appeared.

But it is not only scientific studies. There are also official communications from governments and health agencies around the world. Then there are news articles and opinion pieces, and messages from vloggers, bloggers, podcasters and social media influencers. You may also see information shared by friends and family on social media or messaging apps.

All of this is called the infodemic: a flood of information on the COVID-19 pandemic. Infodemiology is the study of that information and how to manage it.

Navigating the infodemic: top tips to identify misinformation or disinformation

Misinformation Infographic_V4

Here are seven steps you can take to navigate this wave of information and decide who and what to trust:

1. Assess the source

Who shared the information with you and where did they get it from? Even if it is friends or family, you still need to vet their source. To check for fake social media accounts, look at how long profiles have been active, their number of followers and their most recent posts. For websites, check the “About Us” and “Contact Us” pages to look for background information and legitimate contact details.

When it comes to images or videos, make it a habit to verify their authenticity. For images, you can use reverse image search tools provided by Google and TinEye. For videos, you can use Amnesty International’s YouTube DatViewer, which extracts thumbnails that you can enter into reverse image search tools.

Other clues that a source may be unreliable or inaccurate include unprofessional visual design, poor spelling and grammar, or excessive use of all caps or exclamation points.

2. Go beyond headlines

Headlines may be intentionally sensational or provocative to get high numbers of clicks. Read more than just the headline of an article – go further and look at the entire story. Search more widely than social media for information – look at print sources such as newspapers and magazines, and digital sources such as podcasts and online news sites. Diversifying your sources allows you to get a better picture of what is or is not trustworthy.

3. Identify the author

Search the author’s name online to see if they are real or credible.

4. Check the date

When you come across information, ask yourself these questions: Is this a recent story? Is it up to date and relevant to current events? Has a headline, image or statistic been used out of context?

5. Examine the supporting evidence

Credible stories back up their claims with facts – for example, quotes from experts or links to statistics or studies. Verify that experts are reliable and that links actually support the story

6. Check your biases

We all have biases, and these factor into how we view what’s happening around us. Evaluate your own biases and why you may have been drawn to a particular headline or story. What is your interpretation of it? Why did you react to it that way? Does it challenge your assumptions or tell you what you want to hear? What did you learn about yourself from your interpretation or reaction?

7. Turn to fact-checkers

When in doubt, consult trusted fact-checking organizations, such as the International Fact-Checking Network and global news outlets focused on debunking misinformation, including the Associated Press and Reuters.

 Information, misinformation and disinformation

Information is what we call things that are accurate to the best of our current knowledge. For instance, COVID-19 stands for coronavirus disease 2019 and is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. One of the difficulties with any new pathogen, like this coronavirus, is that information changes over time as we learn more about the science.

Misinformation, on the other hand, is false information. Importantly, it is false information that was not created with the intention of hurting others. Misinformation is often started by someone who genuinely wants to understand a topic and cares about keeping other people safe and well. It is then shared by others who feel the same. Everyone believes they are sharing good information – but unfortunately, they are not. And depending on what is being shared, the misinformation can turn out to be quite harmful.

At the other end of the spectrum is disinformation. Unlike misinformation, this is false information created with the intention of profiting from it or causing harm. That harm could be to a person, a group of people, an organization or even a country. Disinformation generally serves some agenda and can be dangerous. During this pandemic, we are seeing it used to try to erode our trust in each other and in our government and public institutions.

How to navigate misinformation and disinformation

It helps to think of misinformation and disinformation spreading in the same way as viruses. One person might share fake news with their friends and family, and then a handful of them share it with more of their friends and family, and before you know it, potentially harmful or dangerous information is taking over everyone’s newsfeed.

But just as we can protect against COVID-19 with hand washing, physical distancing and masks, we can slow down the spread of misinformation and disinformation by practising some information hygiene. Before sharing something, ask yourself these questions:

How does this make me feel?

Why am I sharing this?

How do I know if it’s true?

Where did it come from?

Whose agenda might I be supporting by sharing it?

If you know something is false, or if it makes you angry, don’t share it to debunk it or make fun of it. That just spreads the misinformation or disinformation further. Learn more about how you can report misinformation online.

Good places to go for reliable information are the websites of your national Ministry of Health or the World Health Organization. Remember, though: information will change as we learn more about the virus.

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WHO on COVID-19 and attainment of SDGs

The World Health Organization officially declared the outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) a public health emergency of international concern on 30 January 2020.1 A few months later, the world is dealing with a crisis of immense proportions. The pandemic has shown that this crisis is fuelled by poverty, hunger, weak health systems and lack of clean water and sanitation, education and global cooperation.2,3 The global recession caused by the COVID-19 response is alarming and has made researchers question whether the sustainable development goals (SDGs) are fit for the post-pandemic age.4 Some have even claimed that certain SDG targets might be counter-productive because they enhance growth rather than development.4 While the SDGs do not have a dedicated pandemic response plan, we believe it is essential not to delink the response to the pandemic from the SDGs. We argue that the COVID-19 crisis demonstrates the need to integrate the SDGs at the national level as well as in individual health-care decisions. We also call for a focus on sustainable health decisions, meaning decisions that are made in the present do not compromise future needs, whether local or global. Making such decisions requires adapting to the current context, anticipating future impact, and using a rights-based framework.


Transforming our world: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development5 emphasizes that achieving the SDGs requires balancing three dimensions of sustainable development: economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. Moreover, sustainable development requires us to balance our needs with the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Although the SDGs were the outcome of dialogues held at all levels of government and civil society, the related discourse has been criticized for an assumption that governments can and should be the primary custodians of any sustainable development agenda.6 This assumption risks consolidating a macrooriented understanding of sustainable development – that is, that sustainable development concerns only nations, not individuals.


The COVID-19 pandemic shows that sustainable development goes beyond national strategies. Every individual needs to make health decisions that meet personal needs as well as the needs of the broader community, such as using facemasks on public transport, observing social distancing advice and self-quarantining when necessary. Such decisions can help to curb transmission and reduce illness, deaths and economic impacts.

Similarly, this global crisis reveals that community needs can be immediate in contrast to the 2030 horizon of the SDGs. Lack of health insurance, reduced access to water during lockdown situations or chronic diseases have suddenly become factors that determine chances of survival. To manage the COVID-19 pandemic, governments have had to balance the need for mitigation, control and eradication. Should such responses entail enforcing states of emergency, or should they involve a mitigation strategy built on the premise of eventually reaching herd immunity, while being sustainable over time?8,9 How could emergency strategies be consistent with targets such as universal health coverage that might reduce the risk for future pandemics? Such issues must be addressed in national strategies and in the individual choices that we all make when we comply with health authorities’ recommendations.


  1. WHO Director-General’s statement on IHR Emergency Committee on Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Geneva: World Health Organization; 2020.Available from: https:// www .who .int/ dg/ speeches/ detail/ who -director -general -s -statement -on -ihr -emergency -committee -on -novel -coronavirus -(2019 -ncov) [cited 2020 Jul 14].
  2. Horton R. Offline: COVID-19 and the NHS – “a national scandal”. Lancet. 2020 03 28;395(10229):1022. doi: http:// dx .doi .org/ 10 .1016/ S0140 -6736(20)30727 -3 PMID: 32222186
  3. Bedford J, Enria D, Giesecke J, Heymann DL, Ihekweazu C, Kobinger G, et al.; WHO Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Infectious COVID-19: towards controlling of a pandemic. Lancet. 2020 03 28;395(10229):1015–18. doi: http:// dx .doi .org/ 10 .1016/ S0140 -6736(20)30673 -5 PMID:
  4. 32197103
  5. Time to revise the sustainable development goals. Nature. 2020 07;583(7816):331–2. doi: http:// dx .doi .org/ 10 .1038/ d41586 -020 -02002 -3 PMID: 32665631
  6. Resolution A/RES/70/1. Transforming our world: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. In: Seventieth United Nations General Assembly, New York, 25 September 2015. New York: United Nations; 2015. Available from: http:// www .un .org/ ga/ search/ view _doc .asp ?symbol = A/ RES/ 70/ 1 & Lang = E [cited 2020 Jul 14].
  7. El-Zein A, DeJong J, Fargues P, Salti N, Hanieh A, Lackner H. Who’s been left behind? Why sustainable development goals fail the Arab world. Lancet. 2016 Jul 9;388(10040):207–10. doi: http:// dx .doi .org/ 10 .1016/ S0140 -6736(15)01312 -4 PMID: 26782981
  8. Anderson RM, Heesterbeek H, Klinkenberg D, Hollingsworth TD. How will country-based mitigation measures influence the course of the COVID-19 epidemic? Lancet. 2020 03 21;395(10228):931–4. doi: http:// dx .doi .org/ 10