Press Release

Nurses, Healthcare Workers in 11 Countries Mark ‘Nurses Week’

Emphasizing a Universal Theme – ‘Health Care is a Human Right’ 

Leading nurse and healthcare union organizations in 11 countries in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe are holding coordinated actions marking international “Nurses Week” with a call to step up efforts to promote patient safety, protect health care services, and ensure access to health care for all with a common theme of “Health Care is a Human Right.”

Hundreds of nurses and other health workers will be rallying and marching Monday in the U.S. in Washington, DC, Chicago, and Sacramento, Ca. and in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, and South Africa.

Nurses and health workers have already held associated actions, or will in the coming days, in Australia, Canada, Ireland, the Philippines, and South Korea.

The various actions include calls to enact new measures to protect patient safety, including the passage of legislation for safe staffing laws, stop the privatization of health services, take action against the harmful health effects of climate change, and a call for enactment of the Robin Hood tax on trades of stocks, bonds and other financial instruments to raise needed revenue for basic human needs.

In each country, the actions are led by affiliates of Global Nurses United, an international federation of nurses and healthcare worker unions across the globe formed in June last year in San Francisco. 

Leaders of the organizations pledged to work together on a program of issues emphasizing that health care must be a right for all people, as well as opposition to austerity measures, especially cuts in health care services, privatization, and promoting secure safe patient care, especially with safe nurse-to-patient ratios, and safe health care workplaces.

Among the major actions:

Australia (Australian Nursing Federation) – workplace activities in 137 hospitals and aged care facilities across Queensland, as well as actions in New South Wales to raise public awareness about the fight against breast cancer and other actions.

Brazil (Federação Nacional dos Enfermeiros) – mobilization of nurses at the national capital in Brasilia followed by a public hearing. 

Canada (Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions and Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec) -- a national “wear white” protest campaign to push for safe staffing and defend patient safety, along with workplace protests and street rallies. 

Dominican Republic (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de Enfermeria) – marches in the cities of Santo Domingo, Santiago, Barahona and San Pedro de Macorís demanding a bigger budget for public health and against the privatization of health services.

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Mobilization by Kenya National Union of Nurses this month

Guatemala (Sindicato Nacional de los Trabadores de Salud de Guatemala) – a picket in Guatemala City at the Congress of the Republic demanding passage of the Robin Hood Tax to protect public health care services.

Honduras (Asociation Nacional de Enfermeras/os Auxiliares de Honduras) – marches across the country, including a march in Tegucigalpa to the seat of the national government in support of nurses and the public health care system.

Ireland (Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation) – the launch of a safe staffing campaign.

Philippines (Alliance of Health Workers) – major protest last week in Manila to stand up for health care workers and public health care and against privatization.

South Africa (Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa) – events, under the theme “Nurses: A Force for Change, A vital Resource for Health” across the country through May 29.

South Korea (Korean Health and Medical Workers Union) – a national tour that began last week continuing until May 23 in opposition to health care privatization, along with the announcement of a new study emphasizing the need for improved staffing. 

United States (National Nurses United) – a gathering of 500 registered nurses in Sacramento to press for passage of legislation to demand passage of a package of bills to improve patient care, a rally in Washington DC to push for passage of safe staffing legislation in district hospitals, and in Chicago a tour of polluting petroleum coke sites and a push for a city moratorium on petcoke operations, storage, and transport due to the severe adverse effects on public health.