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Leading nurses recognised for international human rights work

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Two leading nurses have been revealed as this year’s recipients of a prestigious award given each year to nursing professionals for their work to promote ethical practice and human rights.

A nurse who has worked to help homeless people and another who has worked in outbreak zones around the globe are to receive the Human Rights and Nursing Award.

“Nurses and other care-givers are society’s unsung heroes”

Ann Gallagher

The award is given each year by the International Care Ethics Observatory, which is based at the University of Surrey in Guildford.

The observatory seeks to highlight the importance and complexity of care activities in health and social care and supports innovative and effective interventions that develop ethical care practices.

It was launchedon 5th February 2014 and succeeds the International Centre for Nursing Ethics, which was established in 1999 by Verena Tshudin and Geoffrey Hunt.

Alice Leahy and Miriam Kasztura will join a distinguished list of nursing professionals who have shown exceptional levels of care and dedication to people in need.

Previous recipients of the award include Will Pooley, who returned to his nursing duties in Sierra Leone after contracting ebola.

Ms Leahy, a former nurse and midwife and co-founder of the Alice Leahy Trust, has worked “tirelessly to improve the lives of homeless people in Ireland”, noted the university.

Through her work with her charity, she has developed an “extraordinary” nurse-led service that offers respite, shelter, healthcare and friendship to anyone who is without a home in Dublin.

She has also campaigned for over fifty years for the rights and freedoms of homeless people, helping to improve their quality of life.

Meanwhile, Miriam Kasztura, a nurse and long-term member of Médecins Sans Frontières, has been recognised by the university for her clinical work in developing countries.

Between 2011 and 2017, she completed 15 assignments in humanitarian emergencies and conflict settings in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Syria. She has also worked during outbreaks of ebola, measles, malaria, cholera and meningitis.

She is currently on the board of directors at MSF and is leading on the enforcement of human rights in underserved populations in Switzerland whose healthcare needs are not met.

Ann Gallagher

‘If the culture is unethical, acts of heroic staff may be futile’

Ann Gallagher

Ann Gallagher, director of the International Care Ethics Observatory and professor of ethics and care at Surrey University, said: “We are delighted to award this accolade to Alice and Miriam.

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

She added: “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.”

Both recipients will receive their award at a ceremony at the Catherine McAuley School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University College Cork on 1 September.

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