Members of the British royal family have come together to pay tribute to the thousands of nurses working across the Commonwealth during the coronavirus pandemic.
To mark International Nurses Day, Duchess Kate and Countess Sophie teamed up together to speak to nurses in seven different commonwealth countries. The Zoom call, which took place on Monday, was facilitated the Duchess of Cambridge's patronage Nursing Now, a global campaign to raise the status and profile of nursing.
The pair dialed in to the call from their homes to speak to nurses in Queensland, Australia—who provide culturally appropriate services to local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people—as well as nurses at the Aberdeen Women’s Centre in Sierra Leone and the LV Prasad Eye Institute in India, which the Countess of Wessex has previously visited. They also called the Apollo Hospital in India, HIV and maternal health nurses in Malawi, mental health nurses in the Bahamas, Army nurses in Cyprus, and pediatric nurses from the Evelina London Children’s Hospital and Community Services in the U.K.
Nurses and midwives make up about half the global healthcare workforces and, says a Buckingham Palace spokesperson, “play a critical role in health promotion, disease prevention, and delivering primary and community care.” Sophie and Kate made sure to ask each nurse about the work they’re doing, learn more about the impact of COVID-19, and ask how they are coping with the pandemic.
The queen is also marking the May 12 occasion through a conversation with Professor Kathleen McCourt, the president of the Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Federation and the Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing, of which Her Majesty is Patron. This marks the first time a recording of the monarch on the phone has been released by Buckingham Palace.
Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, have provided their own message of support, thanking nurses around the world. Camilla has also recorded messages to nurses from the Royal Naval Medical Service and Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity in the U.K.
Throughout each exchange, the royal family have “reiterated their thanks to nurses across the Commonwealth for the incredible work they do on a daily basis," says a spokesperson. The Duchess of Cambridge even wrote a letter to the staff of Nurses Now last month.
Princess Anne spoke to the program manager of a medical ship in Tanzania which provides facilities for those with little or not medical care. Prince William chatted with nurses from the Royal Marsden Hospital in London last week, and Princess Alexandra, the queen’s cousin, spoke with the head of the Naval Nursing Service.
"Nurses and midwives are often the first and sometimes the only health professional that people see and the quality of their initial assessment, care and treatment is vital," says a Buckingham Palace statement. "They provide care that is sensitive to their local community–understanding its culture, strengths and vulnerabilities so can shape and deliver effective interventions to meet the needs of patients, families and communities."
Watch the full video of the royals' calls to nurses above.
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