ICN CEO Howard Catton praises courageous nurses working in disaster areas

10 January 2020

In recent weeks our television screens and newspapers have been filled with horrifying images of natural disasters and the human suffering that goes along with them.

“No one can fail to have been shocked and moved by the plight of people facing the horrifying bush fires in Australia, the enormous floods in Indonesia, or the devastating cold wave in India” said ICN Chief Executive Officer, Howard Catton.

“Each year there are countless weather and geological events that have terrible outcomes for the people caught up in them. The death and destruction caused by such disasters will be compounded by the longer-term suffering of individuals and communities as they come to terms with their losses and move on to rebuilding their lives.

"But the flooding and bush fires we have seen in recent weeks are of a different magnitude to what has been seen in the past, and man-made global warming is the likely cause.

"What has not changed is the fact that nurses are and will continue to be working in the front line of these disasters providing care and support in their communities as they always do,” he concluded.

ICN’s Position Statement on nurses, climate change and health highlights the threats to health that climate change poses if it is not adequately and urgently addressed by governments and ICN’s commitment to raising this issue and demanding action, exemplified by our membership of the Global Climate and Health Alliance.

As well as working to improve and help implement global policy on climate change, ICN is also providing practical guidance to nurses in disaster zones, whether natural or human-made. The recently updated ICN Core Competences in Disaster Nursing document provides guidance on how nurses can help out if they find themselves in the midst of such a disaster.

In addition to providing written guidance, ICN and our members are providing disaster management workshops to nursing associations affected by recent disasters. This includes natural disasters, such as Hurricane Dorian, which devastated the Bahamas in 2019 or human-made disasters, such as the bombings in Sri Lanka, in May 2019.

Over the next two months, these workshops will be supporting the professional development of over 120 nurses. They will be led by world renowned experts in disaster management. The aim of these workshops is to improve the skills and capabilities of nurses to effectively prepare, respond and manage the complex situations that occur as a result of disasters. ICN is passionate about supporting the nursing profession to effectively and rapidly respond to disasters.

Nurses are the largest group of health professionals, who are often required to work in difficult situations with limited resources in complex environments. They play vital roles when disasters strike including serving as first responders, triage officers, care providers, coordinators of care and services, counsellors, leaders and key providers of information. Nurses are amongst the most valuable assets in preventing, managing and responding to disasters.

ICN stands behind the nurses who are working tirelessly to bring healing to their people and honours their efforts to minimise the effects of the dangerous challenges they face.


Photo credit: NZ Herald