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Historic Video Salutes Nurses and Midwives

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A high-definition video featuring 56 nations — “Nurses & Midwives: Now More Than Ever for a Healthy World”  — has been developed, in seven language versions.

by Deva-Marie Beck, PhD, RN, Video Co-Producer and International Co-Director, Nightingale Initiative for Global Health (NIGH)

Jean Yan
Jean Yan, former WHO Chief Nursing Scientist (left) with Deva-Marie Beck

This production was achieved over two years, in collaboration with Dr. Jean Yan, former Chief Nursing Scientist at World Health Organization in Geneva and through worldwide input and support of global nursing leaders. The evocative video soundtrack has been “gifted” to the nurses of the world — royalty-free — by renown Canadian fiddler Natalie MacMaster . Her original music, “Julia's Waltz” — and all her songs featured on the Yours Truly album — can be downloaded here.  Natalie!  Heartfelt thanks to you from all nurses and everyone watching these videos!

Rare WHO Photo Archives of Nurses and Midwives

This production began in the Summer of 2007, while I was visiting World Health Organization (WHO) Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, with colleague, NIGH's Global Communications Director, Wayne Kines. While there, I visited with WHO Librarian Tomas Allen, telling him about NIGH's purposes to increase public awareness about health and to empower nurses with a strong voice to effectively advocate for pressing global health needs.

Tomas suggested that I visit the WHO Archives where rare black and white photographs had been preserved since the founding of WHO in 1948, many featuring the work of nurses and midwives.  From this visit, I was introduced to WHO Archivist, Marie Villemin, Anne Wyrsch, WHO Photo-Librarian and Jennifer Bretault, WHO Archives Intern, who assisted me to select about 250 photographs for further project development.

From the beginning of my review of these historic files, I selected photos representing the wide range of responsibilities nurses and midwives take in their hands-on work to promote health and healing and to alleviate suffering. I also chose pictures that would represent a wide diversity of settings where nurses and midwives practice around the world, including settings where nursing students and nursing educators are featured.

Discovered: A Common Ground of Caring

Natalie MacMaster
Natalie MacMaster's Yours Truly album cover: Photographer: Alex MacAulay

During this initial review of the WHO Archives, I was deeply moved by the “common ground of caring" I witnessed in the faces of nurses and midwives around the world — even across the diversity of settings and wide-range of access to health care. 

The first project developed from these archives was for a keynote PowerPoint presentation at the “II Congreso Venezolano Florence Nightingale” in Caracas, Venezuela, hosted by Rodney Martinez and Veronica de Morabito of Rodeneza, in August, 2007.

Here these photos were enthusiastically received.

Then, while attending a WHO Regional Nursing Meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, in December, 2007, I shared this presentation with the WHO EURO Regional Nursing Advisor Bente Sivertsen and then WHO Chief Nursing Scientist Dr. Jean Yan, who immediately noted the opportunity to further develop these photographs into a video showcasing the contributions of nurses and midwives during the the 2008 WHO 60th Anniversary and the 30th Anniversary of the Alma Ata Declaration for Primary Health Care (1978).

Creating a WHO Primary Healthcare History Taskforce

Thus, in January, 2008, Dr. Yan and I became Video Co-Producers as we met further in Ottawa, Canada to craft a draft "storyboard” outlining the diverse contributions nurses and midwives have made to Primary Health Care around the world, since the founding of WHO.

We also identified a WHO Primary Healthcare History Taskforce  to begin this collaboration, including Bente Sivertson, WHO EURO RNA in Copenhagen, Dr. Lis Wagner, WHO-EURO Member of Global Advisory Group for Nursing & Midwifery & Professor, Research Unit of Nursing, University of Southern Denmark; Tomas Allen, WHO Librarian; Marie Villemin, WHO Archivist, in Geneva; Dr. Yan and myself.

Deva-Marie Beck with Kathleen Fritsch, WHO WPRO Regional Nurse Advisor, (right) at the English and Mandarin debuts of "Nurses & Midwives Now More Than Ever for a Healthy World" in Jinan, China, October, 2008.

For production and promotion expertise, we also included Andrew Kines, an independent film and video editor and David Kines, then Vice President of MuchMusic Television, both from Toronto. 

With an initial outline and input from this Taskforce, I developed a “first cut” of English text and photographs for review and consultation by the WHO Global Advisory Group for Nursing and Midwifery (GAGNM) meetings in Geneva in March and May of 2008.

At these meetings, it was determined that a quote from Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO's Director General, be featured to further showcase the value of Primary Health Care in the 21st century.

By May, the music track was added and WHO colour photographs included to bring the story up to the present. The new colour photos were accessed from WHO files in Geneva and from the WHO WPRO Image Bank.

Also in May 2008, I was hosted in New Delhi where Dr. Prakin Suchayaxa, WHO's SEARO Regional Nursing Advisor, convened a meeting of national Indian nursing leaders to review this initial version.

Preparing a Mandarin Version for Video Debut in China: Portuguese Version Quickly Follows

From these consultations, the video was further scheduled to be showcased in China, in October, 2008 at a WHO WPRO Regional Nursing Meeting in Jinan. In preparation for this showing, Dr. Amy Zhang, Professor at the Shandong University School of Nursing, created a corresponding Mandarin text.  In preparation for this debut, the final “storyboard” was developed into a draft High Definition Video version by Editor, Andrew Kines, with music and English and Mandarin subtitles included. Based on this showing, a few brief changes were suggested and the video was wholeheartedly accepted by conference attendees from nations across WHO's Western Pacific, Southeast Asian and Eastern Mediterranean regions.

From this response, a Portuguese version was immediately developed, in collaboration with Dr. Isabel Costa-Mendes, translator, to be showcased in November, 2008, in Brazil at Dr. Costa-Mendes' official Induction as Secretary General of the Global Network of WHO Collaborating Centres for Nursing and Midwifery at the Sao Paulo University School of Nursing, where she is Dean. This was also the first showing of the video in the WHO PAHO-AMRO region.

Showcasing the Video around the World

Nurses in India
Indian national nursing leaders, hosted by Dr. Prakin Suchayaxa, WHO SEARO Regional Nursing Advisor, together preview video in New Delhi, India, May, 2008.

The official Premiere of Nursing and Midwifery: Now More Than Ever for a Healthy World was then featured at WHO Headquarters in Geneva in March, 2009. As well, it was also showcased across the world: in Vienna, Italy, by WHO EURO RNA, Bente Sivertson; in Yangdon, Myanmar, by WHO SEARO RNA, Dr. Prakin Suchayaxa; in Nairobi, Kenya by WHO AFRO RNA, Margaret Phiri; by WHO WPRO RNA, Kathy Fritsch, in Cannes, Australia and Manila, Philippines and by GAGNM Member Professor Cheherezade M.K. Ghazi, Director of the Nursing College at Cairo University in Egypt, in collaboration with WHO EMRO RNA, Dr. Fariba Al-Darazi.   

Rear Admiral Kerry Paige Nesseler, official GAGNM Observer and Assistant Surgeon General and Director at the Office of International Health Affairs of the US Department of Health and Human Services, also featured this video at a conference convened at the US HHS in Rockville, Maryland. I have also highlighted this video during my own keynote addresses, representing NIGH in Beijing (with International Co-Director, Dr. Barbara Dossey) and Toronto, in collaboration with the Beijing Nightingale Community of Culture and Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO), in New York City, in collaboration with Earthrose and Urban Zen, and in Quebec City, in collaboration with the Canadian Nursing Students Association (CNSA).

Seven Versions Created — Including Arabic, French, Russian and Spanish

After the Mandarin and Portuguese texts were achieved, it was determined that versions of this video would be rendered in all remaining official United Nations languages. For these, Editor Andrew Kines collaborated with four language translators across the remaining months of 2009. The Arabic version was developed Dr. Da'ad Shokeh, President of the Jordanian Nursing Council in Annam. The Russian version was developed by Dr. Elena Frolova, MD, PhD, Nursing Educator and Associate Professor of Public Health at the St. Petersburg Medical Academy for Postgraduate Studies and Deputy General Director of the Vishnevskaya-Rostropovich Foundation in the Russian Federation. The Spanish version was developed by Dr. Silvina Malvarez, WHO PAHO-AMRO Regional Nursing Advisor, based in Washington, DC. The French version was developed by Genevois WHO Archivist, Marie Villemin at WHO Headquarters.  Translators Drs. Costa-Mendes, Frolova and Shokeh also serve on the International Advisory Board of the 2010 International Year of the Nurse.

In addition to NIGH's Internet showcase of all seven language versions, this video is also posted on WHO's Nursing and Midwifery webpage. [http://www.who.int/hrh/nursing_midwifery/films/en/index.html]

DVD Package Requested and Sponsors Sought

At “II Congreso Venezolano Florence Nightingale” with Rodney Martinez, CEO of Rodeneza (centre) and Luz María Márquez, Presidenta, Federación de Colegios de Enfermeras de Venezuela (right), in Caracas, August, 2007.

Throughout these showings, many people have requested a High Definition DVD version of this video.  According to WHO rules, we are allowed to freely use these photographs — with full attribution to WHO photographers, below. 

And, we are not allowed to sell any products that might be developed from these WHO archives. However, if an appropriate Sponsor could be identified — who would provide funding for DVD packaging, shipping and handling to nursing schools, hospitals and national and regional health departments around the world — this project might be further developed for such a global outreach. 

As well, we have been requested to consider additional language versions. This option is also available, if funding for additional language video-editing can be found. 

To continue further collaboration on sponsoring the DVD package and /or on developing further language versions, please contact us at [email protected]

56 Nations Featured from Every Region of WHO

The following are the 56 nations featured in "Nurses & Midwives: Now More Than Ever For A Healthy World" :
Afghanistan, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Cook Islands, Cuba, Denmark, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Federal Republic of Germany, Finland, France, Garbon, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, People's Republic of China, Philippines, Republic of the Fijian Islands, Republic of Korea, Romania, Samoa, Singapore, Somalia,  Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, United States of America, Venezuela, Vietnam and Yemen.

Featured WHO Photographers

The WHO Photographers featured in this video are: J. Abecede, A. Alexsiev, P. Almasy, H. Anenden, Bernhein, C. Black, P. Boucas, J. Herandez Claire, D. Darbois, A. Esquillon, K. Frucht, K. Gates, Grenier, M. Halamandaris, D. Henrioud, J. Holmes, M. Jacot, M. Jensen, M. Kerslake, A. S. Kochar, M. Murray-Lee Manevy, E. Mandelmann, J. Mohr, U. Nagarta, J. Nakagawa, L. Nadel, H. Page, P. Palmer, P. Pittet, Pouliquen, E. Rice, T.S. Satyan, E. Schwab, J. Schytte, S. Suomela, T. Takahara, P. Virot, P.M. Virot, A. Waak, P. Wiggers and J. Zafar.


Visitors at the Mapparium in the Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston, Massachusetts. This was the site to launch Dr. Jean Watson's Million Nurse Project—during the 2010 International Year of the Nurse—to radiate heart-centered Love, Caring and Compassion through individual and collective global meditations. Photo Courtesy of the Mary Baker Eddy Library.