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April 2022

Overwhelming support for ICN #NursesForPeace campaign

Within days of its launch, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) #NursesForPeace campaign reached 95 million people, and raised CHF 100,000, and with current pledges, that is expected to grow significantly.

It is two months since the invasion of Ukraine, and the devastating impact it has had on the people of Ukraine, their nurses and health systems shows no signs of letting up. More than 4.3 million people, mostly women and children have been forced to flee their country.

The campaign was launched on 3 March so nurses could express their solidarity, support the call for an end to hostilities and donate to the ICN Ukraine Humanitarian Fund.

ICN continues to call for ceasefire and its online petition has received almost 2,500 signatures, including from National Nursing Associations (NNAs) and other organisations representing more than 400,000 nurses worldwide. At the beginning of the invasion, the ICN called for the protection of healthcare facilities and staff, in line with international law, and said: 'We have been shocked and appalled by the attacks we have seen, such as the bombing of the maternity hospital at Mariupol on 9 March.’

The ICN reports ‘phenomenal support’ from individual nurses, NNAs, and other nursing organisations around the world, many of whom have donated generously to the ICN Humanitarian Fund. The Council said: ‘Our aim is to make sure that the funds get to nurses on the ground in Ukraine, which we will achieve through our close relationships with trusted partners.’ Within days, ICN sent the first donation to the Ukrainian Nurses Association to provide basic necessities for nurses, including food and medical aid.

The ICN said: ‘We have kept in regular contact with nurses in Ukraine, who have told us about the attacks on their facilities and described their desperate need for essential supplies, such as food and clothing, bed linen, personal hygiene products, medicines and medical supplies, including insulin, antibiotics, wound dressings and tourniquets.

‘We are actively working with the Ukraine Nurses Association to get funds and aid into Ukraine and into the hands of nurses so that this support will have the greatest possible impact on nurses’ wellbeing and patient care.’

The ICN is also in close contact with the NNAs in the surrounding countries that are taking in the most refugees, the majority of whom are women and children, including Poland, Moldova, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia. Nurses and their NNAs in those countries are contributing massively to the responses to the unfolding humanitarian crisis by providing care for the refugees’ immediate health needs, and referral on to specialist services for those with long-term conditions.

There are nurses among the refugees who will need specific help so that they are able to work and support their families. ‘We are currently exploring with the neighbouring countries’ NNAs some specific initiatives around this topic as part of the work they are doing for the relief effort.’

ICN Chief Executive Officer Howard Catton said: ‘We are trying to get our support directly to or as close to nurses and nursing care in Ukraine as we can, and we realise that an immediate response is important. But we will also want to provide support over the coming weeks and months.

‘ICN will continue to call for the immediate cessation of hostilities and will always act to protect and support nurses in danger, ensure safe access to healthcare and endeavour to provide humanitarian relief wherever it is needed.’

Practice Nurse 2022;52(4):6