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Salute to indomitable spirit of the nursing community

Two nurses at work at a hospital in Imphal

In times of pandemic, the nurses play a pivotal role as Frontline Workers in the truest sense of the term and many of them have contracted the deadly COVID-19 in the process of looking after unfortunate patients.

By Sanjoo Thangjam

The noble profession of Nursing was born when Florence Nightingale led a group of 34 odd other British Nurses to tend to the wounded British soldiers in the midst of the Crimean War between the British and the Russians. It was here that she earned the title of Lady with the Lamp, a lamp that would inspire millions of others all across the globe in years to come.

It was in 1854 that she left for the Crimea where about 18,000 British soldiers were holed up in the field hospital either wounded or sick. She relied on her earlier experience in England where she halved the mortality rate during the cholera outbreak by improving the sanitary conditions of the area in and around the hospital. And she applied the same in Crimea also by first making all abled patients scrub the floors of the hospital which in today’s world is called sanitizing.

Besides tending to the sick and wounded clinically she also wrote treatises on hospital management and compiled statistics which was very revealing. For instance of the 18,000 British soldiers who died during the Crimean war, only 2000 were due to wounds received directly in battle. The rest 16,000 had perished because of infections and secondary causes that they had acquired in the course of their post-battle treatment. It was her idea to lift up the morales of the patients through the use of clean linens, specialized diets, and even a library where they relax their minds through books.

Some 100 plus years after her death medical sciences have improved leaps and bounds to the extent that heart, kidney, and liver transplants have become a regular feature almost in all the countries globally. But while the doctors would be performing their assigned tasks during the operation and treatment process along with the help of Nurses but the actual curing of the patient lies almost entirely with the nurses. this has given birth to the term “nursing back to health’. And the emergence of Nursing Homes dedicated entirely to people who want to be back on their feet after a major operation or spell of sickness which only nurses can provide.

Manipur for that matter the whole of India is today facing an almost war-like situation with the emergence of the Coronavirus where millions have been affected and thousands of them have died and are dying still today. Corona is an ailment that cannot be cured through surgery the patient has to depend entirely on medicines and ventilator support. The task of providing timely medicines to the patients lies with the nurses who also have the task to monitor their progress or deterioration and report the matter to the concerned doctors. Hence they are playing the pivotal role of being the Frontline Workers in the truest sense of the term and many of them have contracted the deadly virus in the process of curing the patients.
The first batch of nurses in Manipur were ANM Nurses who were trained under the supervision of Late Dr Y Satyabati Devi in the then Civil Hospital complex in the middle of Imphal town. Today there are many Institutions that are training Nurses and the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences also has a full-fledged Medical College churning out hundreds of nurses annually. And Manipuri nurses can be found almost in all major hospitals across India and even abroad today.

But irrespective of the places that they work in and the salaries they receive the ethos and sense of service still remains the same. And every year the State awards the Florence Nightingale Award to outstanding nurses across the country. Today if one has to name a dedicated Nurse and a leader amongst the Covid Warriors the name of Priyashini Heikrujam comes into mind and she is not shy to report to Social Media too for the general people to understand the plight and pleasures of being a Nurse.  

(The writer is a Social Activist for People Who Use Drugs (PUDs)

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