Eight Ismaili women of Pakistani origin were honoured with recognition in the list of 100 Outstanding Women Nurses and Midwives. They were among the 100 women from 43 countries who were acknowledged for making significant contributions to the fields of nursing and midwifery. The list was a collaboration between several major development agencies focused on global health and nursing which included the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Nursing Now, International Council of Nurses (ICN), International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) and Women in Global Health (WGH).

All eight recipients are affiliated with the Aga Khan University. Dr. Rozina Karmaliani, Dean of Aga Khan University’s School of Nursing and Midwifery (SONAM), was featured in the Board and Management category in appreciation of her efforts to spearhead improvements in adolescent health, strengthen research capacities and integrate research into education and practice.

Faculty members Yasmin Parpio and Samina Vertejee were highlighted in the Community Hero category for their services in community health nursing. In the Human Capital Development category, Saima Sachwani was included for her contributions in developing an impactful nursing curriculum. Nurse-midwife Marina Baig was featured in the Innovation, Science & Health category for leveraging mobile health technology to improve maternal health outcomes.

Three SONAM alumni were featured in the Community Hero category comprising of Dr. Shela Hirani for her efforts to promote, protect and support breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic, Neelam Punjani for her work in improving access to sexual and reproductive health rights and Sadaf Saleem for her contributions to geriatric nursing.

Dean Karmaliani shared her thoughts on being recognized saying, “It is an honour to be acknowledged by the international public health and nursing fraternity. This year has been particularly challenging for healthcare providers, all of whom have shown incredible commitment in their respective roles in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. It is encouraging to see that our government and healthcare stakeholders in Pakistan are coming together and deliberating on investing in nursing and midwifery education, practice and research. There is no better time than now to acknowledge the critical role of nurses in creating resilient healthcare systems.”

The 100 Outstanding Women Nurses and Midwives list was a culmination of the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, a campaign started by the World Health Organization to draw attention to the fundamental role nurses and midwives play in providing healthcare around the world. The message took on greater significance with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as nurses and midwives courageously worked the frontlines. Their efforts and resolve enabled medical facilities to treat those infected with the virus and ensure that healthcare remained accessible even during the pandemic.

The contributions of nurses and midwives have often been underestimated or unrecognized and campaigns such as this one aims to secure greater support and resources for nurses. The Year of the Nurse and Midwife campaign articulated the importance of giving nurses equal pay, adequate resources, safe workplace environments, positions in leadership and a greater voice in decision-making.