World Health Day: celebrating the year of the nurse & midwife. A perspective on their critical role in expanding patient access to biologics.
Pierre Bourdage via LinkedIn
Apr 07, 2020
2020 – International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife
Today marks World Health Day 2020 – a milestone to shine a light on the pivotal role that nurses, and midwives play in providing healthcare around the globe. The World Health Assembly has designated 2020 as the year of the nurse and the midwife, and the current COVID-19 pandemic continues to show us just how important their role is, along with all other healthcare professionals, in keeping society together and working tirelessly to overcome some of the biggest health challenges. On this special day, we celebrate their dedication, passion and hard work for patients all over the world.
A spotlight on the importance of nurses and midwives
Historically, nurses have been the unsung heroes of the world, playing a key role in recognizing and responding to emerging disease threats such as Ebola or the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009. Nurses and midwives devote their lives to looking after people of all ages and are often the first port of call for providing healthcare to patients within their community. They have an important duty in a patient’s healthcare journey, offering advice on managing conditions and providing emotional support.
Worldwide, there is an increasing demand for clinical nurse specialists, particularly in areas such as oncology where the number of healthcare professionals is not keeping up with the increase in incidence. Evidence shows that cancer nurses can make significant contributions to improving cancer survivorship. As well as expediting care pathways, access to a clinical nurse specialist has been shown to be vital in delivering high-quality care and treatment.
As core parts of their duties, clinical nurse specialists often deliver treatment, promote adherence, assess side effects, provide both practical medical and emotional support to patients in their greatest time of need. It is no overstatement to say that they are vital to the provision of excellent patient-centered cancer care and beyond.
Nurses can play a key role in increasing access to biologics
With well over 10 years of evidence from almost 100 countries across various therapeutic areas including oncology, immunology and endocrinology, biosimilars are offering significant benefits for patient care by increasing access to biologic treatments. With Sandoz biosimilars alone, we have experiences from over 530 million patient days worldwide. At the same time, more and more data – in both clinical and real-world evidence settings – is becoming available, which shows that under the therapeutic guidance of a physician and healthcare experts, patients can be switched from a reference medicine to a biosimilar.
To realize the full potential of biosimilars, it is important to educate patients as well as healthcare professional to overcome any misconceptions they may have about the switch to biosimilars. It is here, where clinical nurse specialists are particularly well placed to help educate patients about biosimilars. In 2018, the European Specialist Nurses Organisation first issued a communication and information guide for nurses on “Switch Management between Similar Biological Medicines”, which walks through the different steps all the way from understanding what a biosimilar is, its benefits and steps to help guide the switch.
Nurse-led patient education and investment in managed switching programs have the potential to improve patient confidence and adherence to their biosimilar treatments, which may subsequently lead to increased patient access to these valuable medicines and drive more sustainable and affordable healthcare systems.
I hope you will join me in celebrating the work of nurses and midwives, to highlight the importance of their role, the adversities that they often face, and champion for increased investments in the nursing and midwifery workforce.