The Oslo Forum: Sharing, exploring and recognising the work of nurses past and present

This blog was written by Joanna SoonJoo Lee, Executive Committee Chair, Korean Nurses Association.

Last year in May when the Korean President Moon Jae-in made an official state visit to Norway, the Korean Nurses Association (KNA) wrote a letter to our President to honor a veteran nurse, Ms. Gerd Semb who served during the Korean War. President Moon showed respect to her and the Norwegian Nurses Association President and invited them to the state dinner held at the Royal Palace.

This year marks the 70th year since the outbreak of the Korean War where six countries, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, India, and Germany dispatched nurses and medical teams to assist the military and civilians. 

Last year during the 2019 Singapore ICN Congress, ICN President Annette Kennedy, National Nursing Federation representatives, and the KNA gathered to initiate an academic and cultural exchange between Korea and the NNF countries.

The KNA presented plaques of appreciation, dated July 27, the date of the armistice, to the six countries and Nurses Associations by visiting each of the embassies in Seoul. As we met the ambassadors, we learned some important historical facts and decided to create the ‘Oslo Forum’ to share, explore, and recognise the work of nurses, past and present. 

Meanwhile, the KNA, as a member of the Pan-National Recommendation Committee of the Nobel Peace Prize for Marianne Stöger and Margaritha Pissarek, continued to advocate that the two nurses who served for 43 years caring for Hansen’s disease patients from the 1960s to 2005, be awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize. This is part of our celebration for nurses around the world and we hope it will encourage governments to improve working environments and conditions for nurses.

As Florence Nightingale enlightened nurses 200 years ago, may the two nurses’ Nobel Peace Prize shed light on the important role of nurses which has never been more evident since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses are praised as heroes but it is vital that this praise is met with tangible change to improve their working conditions.