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International Nurses Day 2019: How Florence Nightingale became 'Lady with the Lamp' after Crimean War; all you need to know

International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world on 12 May. It celebrates the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale. The theme for 2019 International Nurses Day 2019 is – "Nurses – A Voice to Lead – Health for All".

 International Nurses Day 2019: How Florence Nightingale became Lady with the Lamp after Crimean War; all you need to know

Florence Nightingale. Duyckinick, Evert A. Portrait Gallery of Eminent Men and Women in Europe and America. New York: Johnson, Wilson & Company, 1873/Wikimedia Commons

An officer with the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare Dorothy Sutherland first proposed Nurses Day in 1953 and was first proclaimed by President Dwight D Eisenhower. It was first celebrated by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) in 1965.

Florence Nightingale (the foundational philosopher of the modern nursing) was born on 12 May in 1820. International Council of Nurses established the day in 1974 to be celebrated every year to highlight the importance of nurses role in providing the best healthcare services. She became an important figure of the nursing since Crimean War during 1850s.

She, stationed at the Barrack Hospital, Scutari, reformed the health care services and nursing and opened “the Nightingale School of Nursing” at the St. Thomas Hospital, London in 1860, reported IndiaCelebrating.

The International Council of Nurses Code of Ethics states that “inherent in nursing is a respect for human rights, including cultural rights, the right to life and choice, to dignity and to be treated with respect. Nursing care is respectful of and unrestricted by considerations of age, colour, creed, culture, disability or illness, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, politics, race or social status. Nurses render health services to the individual, the family and the community and coordinate their services with those of related groups. The need for nursing is universal."

Who was Florence Nightingale?

According to the Florence Nightingale Museum, the farsighted ideas and reforms of the ‘Lady with the Lamp’ who organised the nursing of sick and wounded soldiers during the Crimean War have influenced the very nature of modern healthcare.

"Her greatest achievement was to transform nursing into a respectable profession for women and in 1860, she established the first professional training school for nurses, the Nightingale Training School at St Thomas’ Hospital," the museum note said.

The ‘Lady with the Lamp’ "campaigned tirelessly to improve health standards, publishing over 200 books, reports and pamphlets on hospital planning and organisation which are still widely read and respected today, including her most famous work Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not."

She also established a School of Midwifery nursing at the King's College Hospital.

According to the Florence Nightingale Museum, she is also credited with inventing the pie chart and was the first woman to be elected to the Royal Statistical Society, also the first woman to be awarded the Freedom of the City of London in 1909.

Her work led to the establishment of the International Red Cross which still awards the Florence Nightingale Medal for nurses who give exceptional care to the sick and wounded in war or peace.

Born in Florence, Italy, on 12 May, 1820, the ‘Lady with the Lamp’ pursued with "what she saw as her God-given calling of nursing." During the Crimean War, she and a team of nurses improved the unsanitary conditions at a British base hospital resulting in diminishing death count. She died on 13 August, 1910, in London.

Crimean War

In 1854, Secretary of War Sidney Herbert wrote to Nightingale to organise a corps of nurses to tend to the sick and fallen soldiers in the Crimea. She quickly assembled a team of around three dozen nurses from a variety of religious orders and sailed with them to the Crimea just a few days later.

"Although they had been warned of the horrid conditions there, nothing could have prepared Nightingale and her nurses for what they saw when they arrived at Scutari, the British base hospital in Constantinople. The hospital sat on top of a large cesspool, which contaminated the water and the building itself. Patients lay in their own excrement on stretchers strewn throughout the hallways. Rodents and bugs scurried past them. The most basic supplies, such as bandages and soap, grew increasingly scarce as the number of ill and wounded steadily increased. Even the water needed to be rationed. More soldiers were dying from infectious diseases like typhoid and cholera than from injuries incurred in battle," the Biography said.

Social media thanks nurses for their contribution

Among who congratulated the nurses on the occasion of International Nurses Day is West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

The World Health Organisation also appreciated the nurses for their service globally.

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Updated Date: May 12, 2019 08:17:11 IST