Nurses and global health responsibility: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine

Int Nurs Rev. 2023 Jun;70(2):141-144. doi: 10.1111/inr.12844. Epub 2023 Apr 15.


Aim: The aim of this paper was to reflect on global ethical challenges for nurses in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine and to discuss 'Nurses and Global Health', a new element in the revised ICN Code of Ethics for Nurses, 2021, and its implications for nurses.

Background: The authors participated in the latest revision of the Code. When we were revising the ICN Code of Ethics, there was neither an ongoing pandemic nor a war in Europe.

Sources of evidence: Relevant scientific articles and other academic literature, documents from international organisations, and authors' views.

Discussion: The discussion emanated from our reflections on how to actually apply the ICN Code of Ethics, i.e., moving the words from the document itself into everyday practice, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. In the Code, the nurse's responsibility is highlighted, but there is little or no instruction on how to undertake it.

Conclusion and implications for nurses: The ICN Code of Ethics needs to be operationalised through ethical reflection and discussion in all contexts where nurses work, from policy level to the care environment.

Keywords: COVID 19; Code of ethics; global health; implications; nurse; responsibility; war in Ukraine.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Ethics, Nursing*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Ukraine / epidemiology