PRESS RELEASE BY THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT: Speech by President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca during the celebration of International Nurses’ Day organised by the Nursing Department at the Faculty of Health Sciences, within the University of Malta

I would like to congratulate the organisers of today’s seminar.

I would also like to commend the lecturing staff, within the Department of Nursing at the Faculty of Health Sciences in the University of Malta, and its Communications Office, for their continuous endeavours.

It is truly my pleasure to join you for this celebration, on the occasion of International Nurses’ Day.

Every year we celebrate the essential contributions that nurses provide through their diverse roles within Maltese society.

This year, we are also celebrating the immense leadership potential of the nursing profession in our communities.

I would like also to pay my respects to the late Professor Donia Baldacchino, and the significant contributions she made towards the nursing profession in Malta.

I am sure that she is sadly missed by all faculty members and students alike, both for her contributions towards the education of nurses in Malta, and also for her joyful presence on campus.

I am pleased to note that today’s seminar, will not only promote the role of nurses within our institutions and communities, but moreover, it will provide a space for further empowerment.

Continuous developments in the healthcare system provide widespread challenges to the nursing profession, in all its settings.

Some of these main challenges include increased awareness and screening; an ageing population; further development of specialised areas; and advancing technology.

These challenges have also an impact on decisions that have to be made for resource allocation, for employment opportunities which also have far-reaching effects on the work environment.

However, such challenges are also creating opportunities for nurses and the nursing profession, to become stronger, more resilient, and more open to creative and innovative approaches.

Also, within this context, it is important to consider the commitment that all countries have towards the United Nations’ Agenda 2030, and its Sustainable Development Goals.

Agenda 2030 provides a suitable framework to develop our response to strategies and action plans, to respond effectively to such challenges.

Sustainable Development Goal Number 3 in particular, focuses on good health and wellbeing, while SDG 1 focuses on poverty, and SDG 4 focuses on education.

These goals offer a stimulus for us to manage a way forward of putting the social determinants of health, into practical action.

However, practically all the SDGs address people’s health.

Therefore, nurses have a role to play, as community and national leaders, to promote and propose actions, to address the mandate of Agenda 2030 through their work.

I truly believe that through your leadership as nurses, you can be powerful voices, against injustices, inequalities, inequity, and to promote empowerment.

I also believe that nurses have a unique potential to be activists for positive change, at all times, throughout our communities and societies as a whole.

I would like to take this opportunity, to appeal to you, to be powerful voices for activism, in nursing and healthcare policy.

This ensures the effective implementation of this United Nations framework for the health and wellbeing of our communities, our societies, our countries, and our world.

In order to successfully make use of this emerging scenario, it is important for nurses to work together, with an interdisciplinary approach to advocate on behalf of their patients, their collaborators and their profession.

Nurses are the largest group of professionals within the healthcare sector, and a great deal of trust is placed in nurses by both the public, their professional colleagues and by national authorities.

Despite the inherent strength of nursing, because of its professional diversity and unique relationship with the public, I have this belief, that the full potential of the nursing profession in Malta can be developed even further.

I believe that, in order to develop and harness their leadership potential, nurses must continue to be influential activists, and continue to advocate for the future they wish to see for their profession.

It is important that all nurses engage in, and become involved, in developing processes which advocate for improvements, that respond to the needs of patients.

At this point, I would like to address students in particular.

I would like to encourage you, to work together, even from now, to be activists for positive change.

Change is an ongoing process, as life and innovation, are not static.

Change needs to have a continuous momentum, for its effects to be timely.

Please remember that, it is never too early to begin working together, as working together will bring about the necessary change for the enhancement of your profession and work.

When you are activists for positive change, you can be leaders within your wards and in your communities, promoting a message of holistic wellbeing, and implementing the practical targets listed in the Sustainable Development Goals.

I encourage you, to follow the roadmap set out by the United Nations, to work in solidarity with an international family of activists, to implement the SDGs, and to improve the lives of the people you come across.

Together, we can make the world, a much better place for all.

The SDGs belong to each and every one of us, and we all have our own role to play, and input to make, to achieve their successful implementation, for all humanity.

Whether working within your own employment setting, to advocate for a safer work environment; or at the state level, to achieve greater authority for career development, the process and skills required for successful advocacy are the same.

Advocacy is a core element in leadership training, and an essential component in increasing the resilience, and the potential of your profession.

I encourage you to be activists for positive change, working together with other stakeholders, to achieve the reforms that will benefit nursing in our islands, and elsewhere and at all times.

For this reason, as part of your seminar’s agenda to address leadership within the profession, in line with the United Nations’ Agenda 2030, let me propose some questions to further stimulate your deliberations.

How do you see yourselves addressing the Sustainable Development Goals throughout your working life and in your profession?

What sort of training would nurses need to make an active input to reach the Sustainable Development Goals?

How can you work in synergy to achieve the best results?

How can you work together to create a plan of action that mobilises the support of all nurses to effectively implement the SDGs?

In what ways, can you foster stronger synergies with civil society, and the general public to motivate effective partnerships which implement the SDGs?

I believe that by including a greater focus on advocacy, as part of your strategies for leadership development, you will address contemporary concerns and challenges, which are in need of creative and innovative solutions.

Nursing, as a profession, and moreover, as a vocation forms the backbone of any healthcare system.

There are few people living in the Maltese Islands whose lives have not been touched by the care and reassurance that our nurses provide.

As you are striving to reach new levels of competency, the demand for more specialised nursing care continues to increase.

It is important that all stakeholders work in synergy.

In this way the nursing profession will benefit from a greater say in the decisions which affect the nurses’ professional practice, their competence and their safety.

In this context more must be done to continue to create further dialogue opportunities between service providers and service users, both of whom have their unique perspectives to share.

In concluding, I must convey my heartfelt thanks to all those in the nursing profession and to all students who are training to take up this profession in Malta.

Thank you for everything you do; for the passion you bring to your vocation; and for the wellbeing that you are helping to create in our communities and across our society in the Maltese Islands.

Finally, to the students following their studies in nursing, I would like to encourage you to be the activists of today so that you shall be the effective leaders of tomorrow.

I am so very proud of you all.

Source: Government of Malta