Nurses praised for work to ‘advance’ human rights across globe

A second nurse received the same accolade for her work to provide physical and mental health support to young people affected by gang culture and also advocates to safeguard children in African communities.

“Nurses and other care-givers are society’s unsung heroes, providing dedicated care to people who need it most”

Ann Gallagher

The international care ethics observatory at the University of Surrey has announced this year’s recipients of its Human Rights and Nursing Award as Yusrita Zolkelfi and Dorcas Gwata, who join a distinguished list of nurses who have shown exceptional levels of care and dedication to people in need.

The observatory is a leading centre that highlights the importance and complexity of care activities in health and social care and supports innovative and effective interventions that develop ethical care practices.

One of this year’s recipient’s of its annual award, Ms Zolkelfi, is lecturer in nursing and midwifery at the University of Brunei. She has been praised for her instrumental work in the development of the professional ethics curriculum in Brunei.

Ms Zolkelfi established classes to stimulate debate on aspects of nursing ethics and its relationship to care and development.

Her work has enabled nurses in the country to learn how to better appreciate their beliefs and convictions and those of people with whom they disagree.

It has also meant that all nurses throughout Brunei can engage in ethics education to understand the language of ethics and to use this body of knowledge to improve the care of patients.

Ms Zolkelfi’s recognition comes a few months after a new penal code was introduced in April in Brunei, which imposes death by stoning for sex between men and adultery, as well as amputations for theft and public flogging for abortion.

As previously reported by Nursing Times when the law was introduced, the World Medical Association (WMA) sent out a warning to all physicians in Brunei not to support it.

At the time, the WMA said that participating in such punishments or even advising or preparing for them would constitute a gross violation of medical ethics.

As well as Ms Zolkelfi, Zimbabwean nurse, Ms Gwata, is also a recipient of the university award. She has been celebrated for her work within Westminster City Council’s Integrated Gangs Unit and for her work in safeguarding children in Africa.

As a public health specialist, Ms Gwata works to help young people and their families who are affected by gang culture, by providing physical and mental health support.

In addition, Ms Gwata is a strong advocate on safeguarding issues for African children across communities, including those affected by female genital mutilation, human trafficking, modern slavery and witchcraft branding.

Ms Gwata came to the UK from Zimbabwe in 1991 and began her career as a cleaner before going on to become a care assistant at the Royal Hospital in Edinburgh.

“It is important that we celebrate the difference nurses make to individuals and communities”

Ann Gallagher

Following this, Ms Gwata then completed her nurse training at City University in London before working in the accident and emergency department at St Mary’s Hospital in London for a number of years.

Alongside her work in the community, she is also a visiting global mental health lecturer at the London School of tropical medicine and King’s College London.

Director of the International Care Ethics (ICE) Observatory and Professor of ethics and care at the University of Surrey, Ann Gallagher, said: “We are delighted to award this accolade to Dorcas and Yusrita.

“Nurses and other care-givers are society’s unsung heroes, providing dedicated care to people who need it most whilst also playing a crucial role in training the next generation be it in the class room or on a ward,” she said.

“It is important that we recognise this and celebrate the difference nurses make to individuals and communities and the efforts they make to advance human rights around the globe,” she added.

Both recipients received their award at a ceremony at the 20th International Nursing Ethics Conference and the 5th International Care Ethics Conference at the university on 24th and 25th July.