Pact paves way for more Singapore nurses to join humanitarian efforts

Nurses seen in a ward at Singapore General Hospital (SGH).
Nurses seen in a ward at Singapore General Hospital (SGH).PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More Singapore nurses will now be able to offer their services and volunteer with local community projects and overseas humanitarian programmes.

The Singapore Red Cross (SRC) and Singapore Nurses Association (SNA) on Saturday morning (Aug 12) signed a memorandum of understanding that aims to boost the involvement of nurses in community outreach and advocacy.

It will also allow them to increase their participation in efforts such as health promotion and mentoring for the elderly and vulnerable, through SRC's local services like Home Monitoring and Eldercare or HoME+ , which helps seniors living on their own.

The tie-up is expected to benefit about 500 people from vulnerable communities in a year.

The pact also paves the way for nursing students to join SRC's overseas humanitarian programmes, and for professional nurses to train foreign nurses in countries where it conducts humanitarian missions.

SNA patron Mary Tan, who is the wife of President Tony Tan Keng Yam, attended the signing of the MOU at the SNA House in Maude Road.

SRC secretary-general and chief executive Benjamin William said the partnership will give a fillip to several aspects of the organisation's work.

He said: "Our nurse-volunteers have the power to improve accessibility to health services, increase health literacy, and enhance the quality of life of the marginalised, including the elderly, migrant workers and caregivers.

"They can also promote healthy community ageing-in-place, and enhance the nation's resilience in the face of our ageing population. This is a life-saving partnership."

The SRC has, for instance, mobilised volunteer-nurses in peacetime missions to countries like Myanmar and Indonesia, and disaster response missions after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013.

Ms Nuriryani Suhaimi, 30, a senior staff nurse at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, went on a humanitarian aid trip to Kupang, in Indonesia, last December, where she conducted health assessments for people in rural areas. The MOU, she said, is a welcome initiative.

She said: "I decided to volunteer since I have some spare time, and I get to see a lot more than I would in a hospital ward.

"Going overseas has been an eye-opener, and it's a good opportunity for nurses to get more exposure and become more well-rounded, in terms of the care that they deliver."