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【国际高中】国旗下讲话:南丁格尔精神

2020-05-18 16:04:01 点击数:

518日,1802祁芊芊同学以国际护士节”为主题,全英文带来本周国旗下讲话

For the many admirers of Florence Nightingale, the bicentenary of her birth on May 12, 2020, has been long anticipated. Few of us could have foreseen that this birthday would come at a time when a swathe of new temporary hospitals bearing her name had been set up in the UK—the NHS Nightingale Hospitals, intended to support the response to Covid-19. No other name could have been as suitable. 200 years after her birth, the work and concerns of Nightingale are as relevant today as they ever were. Her pioneering work to establish nursing as a profession, her use of statistics and data to create early evidence-based health care, and her work on hospital design are all recognizable to health-care professionals working now. But perhaps the greatest resonance is her role as a political influencer and campaigner. Scientific advisers today might recognize with wry sympathy Nightingale's furious attempts to advise politicians in her determination to reform public health.

Nightingale was no stranger to infectious disease. All those living and working in 19th-century London knew and feared the regular and deadly epidemics that swept the capital—smallpox, measles, whooping cough, and diphtheria, among others—but medical practitioners like Nightingale had a special interest and understanding. In one devastating 1854 cholera outbreak in London during which hundreds of people died, Nightingale volunteered to nurse at the Middlesex Hospital, going for 2 nights without sleep and witnessing the effects of an epidemic at close quarters. Nightingale's earlier work at Harley Street had given her the skills and confidence to manage the British hospitals in the Crimean War, and her wartime work was of crucial importance to her later reforms. She had recorded information about natural history and different populations. In Scutari, for the first time, her passion for mathematics and for nursing came together, and this directly fed into her post-war health reforms dedicated to improving the health of the British military, hospital design, and public health generally.

In all her post-war reforms, two elements weave through: the importance of nursing framed as a respected profession and statistics. Statistics were hugely popular in the 19th century, with the more thorough civil registration of births, deaths, and marriages and improved methods of data collection by government for the census. Statistical societies were formed across the UK, and Nightingale was later to become the first women elected to the Royal Statistical Society. When in Scutari, Nightingale began to collect data on the number and causes of deaths in her hospitals, and this data gathering later proved that far more men died of disease, infection, and exposure than in battle—a fact that shocked the British nation. One of Nightingale's most important talents was in displaying data visually. The impact of the graphs and charts she created made Nightingale's arguments pack a powerful punch. Arguably, her work in this area contributed to the development of evidence-based health care and is especially relevant at the present time when it is so crucial to understand and critically evaluate the data generated and shared on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The appalling conditions in the Scutari Barracks Hospital and the treatment of the British soldiers in the Crimean War directly led to later health-care reform in Britain. The indignation felt by the British public was fuelled by the improved communications in technology, allowing the press to report back quickly from the battlefields. The public outcry was cleverly used by Nightingale as leverage to achieve her aims, using her powers of advocacy and political persuasion to establish nursing as a profession and to improve health of the military, and eventually that of the wider public. 

  Looking back at history offers us a variety of things. It can give reassurance as we are reminded that things are always changing, and that even tough times will pass and can be opportunities for reform and transformation. When reflecting on Nightingale's work in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we notice the gap between the medical advice she gave, and the provisions actually made by the government. Nightingale was remorseless in advising government ministers, recognising that the perspective she had as an active health-care professional was very different to that of politicians.. Perhaps the most fitting 200th birthday tribute to Nightingale would be for politicians to listen to the advice of health-care professionals working on the front lines and those researching the COVID-19 pandemic—and to act accordingly. Also, we should show respect and gratitude to all those medical staff that have dedicated themselves into saving lives in the past few months.

 

 

 




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