Crucial role of nursing in achieving UN sustainable development goals
A new Royal College of Nursing report highlights the crucial role of nursing towards achieving the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
In 2015, UN member states agreed on 17 SDGs. These include ending poverty and hunger, good health and education for all, access to clean water and sanitation, empowering women and girls, economic growth, and combatting climate change. Combined, these factors affect health outcomes.
The report, 'Leaving No-One Behind', shows the varied and complex roles nurses do working with diverse communities and individuals. This unique position allows nursing staff to deliver better health outcomes as well as wider social change – key to the SDGs.
It highlights individual members whose work is helping the UK achieve these goals. This includes:
- Helping staff reduce waste by cutting down on disposable healthcare items.
- Setting up a charity which works to highlight the connections between inequalities and mental health problems
- A public health approach to outreach work with young people at risk of exploitation.
- Identifying systematic and cultural issues that contribute towards the health inequalities experienced by Black, Asian and minority ethnic women using maternity services.
The report recommends that the Government invests in nursing and midwifery, alongside efforts to improve population health and reduce health inequalities, in order to achieve the SDGs.
The RCN would like to see a Chief Nursing Officer for England at the heart of the UK Government’s Department of Health and Social Care. The SDGs should also be a key part of nursing education, with emphasis on health inequalities and the social determinants of health.
RCN President Dame Professor Anne Marie Rafferty said: “Throughout the pandemic nursing and midwifery staff around the world have risen to unimaginable challenges and demonstrated skill, expertise, professionalism and extraordinary commitment to putting patients first.
“This has demonstrated the significant contributions nurses and midwives are making to tackling some of the most difficult challenges and injustices facing our communities, including poverty, inequality and climate change.
“This report highlights just some examples of how nurses and midwives are contributing to the SDGs in the UK.
“Health – and wider – inequalities are being exacerbated by the pandemic in the UK and across the world. Concerted and sustained action is needed by governments, stakeholders, and individuals to achieve the SDGs within the decade.”
The report, which was published on World Health Day, can be accessed here.