By Jacob Molyneux, AJN senior editor

In 2005, AJN published an article looking at the experiences of nurses in Israel and in the Palestinian territories (free until September 15; choose ‘full text’ or ‘PDF’ in upper-right of the article landing page). Here’s an excerpt:

“[N]urses in the region have many of the same problems American nurses have: disparate educational levels, struggles for professional recognition and workplace representation. The nurses I met came into the profession for diverse reasons and are working in a remarkable variety of settings, carrying on in the face of political, professional, economic, military, and personal difficulties. Yet I was amazed at the things these nurses have in common with each other—and with us. As I listened to them describe their motivations and aspirations and watched them work, the seemingly impenetrable barrier created by the ongoing military and political conflict melted away.”

Photos and captions from 2005 article about Palestinian and Israeli nurse. Courtesy of Constance Romilly.

Photos and captions from 2005 AJN article. Courtesy of Constance Romilly. Click to expand image.

The current conflict between Israel and those living in the Palestinian territories is another chapter in a long story. Our focus at AJN is not on the politics of the situation or the rhetoric of blame coming from supporters of both sides. Most of our readers already have opinions on the topic, and there are other, more appropriate places you can engage that argument.

The stress and suffering, deaths, injuries, and loss of infrastructure have been well documented. We see lots of images of bombed-out concrete buildings that seem always to have been ruins in some nameless place, with little evidence of the lives only recently played out there. Still, one at times stumbles upon photos of people caught in the shelling, the scarred, maimed, or dead lying in rows on stretchers. These are hard to look at or forget.

As has been noted by many international aid groups and the UN, the health care system in Gaza is under great strain and in urgent need of donations, with a number of hospitals destroyed and others without power or basic medical supplies. In shelters where many are seeking refuge from the bombing, the overcrowding and lack of adequate sanitation is giving rise to disease. A number of groups are mobilizing teams of surgeons and nurses to travel to Gaza and treat the wounded. Others are gathering medicines and medical supplies to send.

Taking a patient history. Image from 2010 AJN photo-essay described above.

Taking a patient history. Image from 2010 AJN photo-essay described at left.

A similar conflict occurred in 2008–2009, and in its wake we published a photo-essay, “Home Nursing in Postwar Gaza” (the article is free until September 15; see photo at right). The photos and text are by members of Merlin, an international medical relief organization focused on  training local community health nurses in Gaza to care for chronically ill or wounded people living in a buffer zone along the Israeli border.

The images and the detailed captions that provide context show nurses helping patients—many of them residents of a Bedouin hamlet in the buffer zone—to practice diabetic foot care, or safely handle recurrent epileptic seizures in a sister, or understand phantom limb sensations after an arm has been amputated. Click the article link to view more photos (for the best version, click through to the PDF at the article landing page).

This is the work nurses do wherever there are people in need, under widely varying circumstance throughout the world.

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