05/17/2012, 00.00
PAKISTAN

In Pakistan, Catholic nurses are the "light and hope" of the poor and sick

by Shafique Khokhar
The Diocese of Faisalabad organised a meeting to mark International Nurses Day with the participation of priests, nuns and ordinary citizens. Nurses talked about their problems, asking for greater job security and training. For vicar general, nursing is like the priesthood, "a vocation that comes from God".

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - Catholics in Faisalabad marked International Nurses Day on 12 May with a special meeting during which participants agreed that nursing is an important profession that requires special skills, missionary dedication and a priest-like spirit for it must bring "light and hope" to the people who suffer the most. At the same time, to improve the quality of the service provided to patients, it is necessary "to offer adequate training and better working conditions".

The event was held in the main hall at St Raphael Hospital in Faisalabad under the aegis of the Diocesan Commission for Inter-Faith Dialogue. About 150 participants, including priests, nuns, nurses and ordinary citizens took part in the event, which included readings from the Holy Bible, songs, speeches, poetry and discussions about the profession, its challenges and the difficulties faced by health care in Pakistan.

During the meeting, nurses spoke about their everyday difficulties, the "pressures they are under in the workplace, psychological influences and unfair wages." Given their circumstances, they demand improvements and greater respect for their profession. The government, they believe, should go beyond offering economic incentives and ensure instead "upward mobility, better training and educational opportunities."

According to Christian lecturer Naghma Noureen, "Nurses play an important role in the community and the whole nation; they help improve people's health and well-being as well as their rehabilitation." Their attachment to their work is "admirable" because, like the Good Samaritan in the Gospel's parable, they serve patients "without knowing them."

"Unfortunately, less and less attention is given to the nursing profession in this country," said Sister Rufina Gill, head of St Raphael Hospital. "Nowadays, people view this noble service as a profession, not a mission."

Still, "Nurses must do their job with honesty and keen interest because this profession is closely attached to the mankind." More importantly, "the quality of nurse training and professionalism should be improved".

Speaking to the nurses present at the event, Fr Khalid Rashid Asi, vicar general of the diocese, said that they do what God does: heal people. "This noble profession," he explained, "is indubitably attached to the priesthood and a vocation that comes from God." For him, nurses are called to "impart hope and joy among the poor, hopeless and depressed people, and serve humanity like the Messiah," he included. 

Lastly, Fr Aftab James Paul, director of the Commission for Inter-faith Dialogue, urged nurses "not to compromise ever with their profession" because they are "endowed by God with the means to bring about miracles like Jesus."

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