This year’s World Health Day falls on April 7 during a time global health services are under extreme stress due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Though coincidental, there’s an irony in the timing of the special day on the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s calendar.
Its focus this year is on the global importance of the work of nurses and midwives.
There are currently 57,833 nurses and 3,300 midwives working in New Zealand communities and hospitals.
Many retired nurses have also registered to help should they be needed in the fight against Covid-19.
Hilary Graham-Smith, a recently retired nurse and former spokesperson for the Nurses Organisation, says the growing number of health worker deaths overseas will be on the minds of their New Zealand counterparts. Frontline worker deaths globally have now soared well beyond 100.
“It is with great sadness that we are losing those people at a time they are so desperately needed,” Ms Graham-Smith said.
“And I imagine it also provokes some anxiety for their own health and wellbeing.”
The NZ College of Midwives says a range of promotional activities had been planned to celebrate World Health Day, but everything is now on hold.
“It’s a stressful time for midwives,” chief executive Alison Eddy said. “We can all survive on adrenaline for a while, but then the edges start to fray.”
She says Covid-19 is adding to a significant range of issues for midwives who are working extra hard in these chaotic times.
Many New Zealanders though are extremely appreciative of the work frontline health staff are doing in the current crisis, with personal messages of support coming from individuals and families alike.