Nursing and the Impact of Worldwide Poverty

Barbara Sheer, DNSc, FNP-C, FAANP


Topics in Advanced Practice Nursing eJournal. 2007;7(3) 

In This Article

International Nursing Advocates

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) is a federation of national nursing organizations representing nurses in 128 countries, focusing on advancing nursing and health worldwide. ICN and national nursing organizations around the world have been strong advocates for the establishment of a UN women's agency. On International Woman's Day in March 2007, 13 million nurse colleagues called upon governments worldwide to move quickly on the recommendation. In a statement at the ICN Conference in Yokohama, Japan, on May 29, 2007, Hiroko Minami, ICN President, expressed concern that the 2006 recommendation for a women's dedicated agency was not a reality.[8]

Nurses globally are encouraged to become actively involved in fighting poverty. A fact sheet entitled "Poverty and Health: Breaking the Link" provides guidelines for leadership opportunities.[9]

Strategies for nurses to join the fight against poverty include becoming politically active in lobbying for equity in healthcare and supporting health policy benefiting the poor. National nursing organizations, including the Royal College of Nursing United Kingdom and the Royal College of Nursing Australia, have been very active in promoting International Women's Day and supporting the new UN women's agency.

Individual nurses need to take the first step in recognizing poverty as a major health issue. Within their community, they can join with others who actively promote family-based care and become advocates for the healthcare of vulnerable populations.

Nurses care for the poor and disenfranchised; they make a difference in the lives of so many. Now they are called to further action, to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. As Ruby Manikan, a 20th century church leader said, "If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family."[10]

As a profession, nursing promotes advocacy and partnerships. As a family- and community-based group, they can continue to make a difference in eradicating poverty and stopping the cycle of poverty for future generations.


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