Nurses congregated for their 20th World Congress in Kuching
KUCHING — The International Catholic Committee of Nurses and Medical Social Assistants (CICIAMS) held its 20th World Congress in Kuching from 4 to 7 September, hosted by the Catholic Nurses Guild of Malaysia.
The theme for 2018 Congress, ‘Education for Sustainable Health: Engaging Development, Respecting Life,’ was inspired by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals 2015.
A total of 280 delegates, including host delegates, attended the Congress, with 149 international delegates from 21 countries from Africa, Americas, Europe and Asia.
The two keynotes speakers touched on the Congress’ theme; His Eminence Cardinal KA Peter Turkson, the Prefect for the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, and Professor Datuk Dr Andrew Kiyu Dawie from UNIMAS spoke on Respecting Life.
Cardinal Turkson shared how the Dicastery had came about. He directed the attention of the delegates to the lopsided state of development that has taken place in many cities around the world, and how the high-rising buildings are standing side-by-side with the dilapidated conditions of the slums occupied by the urban poor. It was this deplorable state that prompted Pope Francis to create a new dicastery to work towards achieving Human Dignity for all, especially for the urban poor and rural population.
Dr Andrew, on the other hand, stressed that nursing and sustainable development goals go hand-in-hand, and is the responsibility, future and choice of the Catholic Nurses. He revealed how much today’s modern convenience on the usage of plastic has seeped into the healthcare industry. While the industry has a great capacity to heal, it is also the “sizeable consumer of natural resources and leaves a significant environmental footprint.” He called on the Catholic nurses to practise the 3Rs of Recycle, Recreate and Reuse in their daily practices.
A total of four plenary sessions and four roundtable sessions were held with speakers from United States of America, South Africa, England & Wales, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria, Swaziland, Singapore and Malaysia sharing their extensive knowledge and experiences with the delegates.
Fr Thomas Nairn OFM (USA) touched on the Catholic Ethical Tradition, calling on the delegates to respect the spirit as they heal the body. He emphasised that the core role of nurses is to care. He urged the delegates not to forget the spiritual needs of their patients where tending to their physical needs. Dr Theresa Chong (Singapore) gave a talk on promoting holistic health globally. She presented that a holistic health is as a contributing factor towards better quality of life. She called on the delegates to treat health as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing. She reiterated that health is a fundamental human right, and an attainment of the highest possible wellbeing in these three areas contribute towards better quality of life.
Ms Tshidi Morigitlane (South Africa) presented that societal mental health is necessary in sustaining development of the society. She touched on the prevention and treatment of substance abuse that include narcotic and alcohol abuse, and the interdependence of mental, physical and social functioning. Without one or another, the state of balance in the family, community and society will greatly be affected.
Dr Patricia Sayers of the National Association of Catholic Nurses USA presented a global update on the nursing role in the aging population, fertility and replacement migration. The subject of fertility and population replacement proved to be a sensitive issue as the Catholic Nurses face the dilemma of carrying out state-sanctioned birth control measures against the church teaching on creation of life.
The roundtable sessions offered the delegates rare insights and perspectives from various regions and nations on crucial matters that have direct impact on sustainable development – welfare issues affecting the children, youth and elderly in the society.
The role of nurses and midwives in today’s contemporary world cannot be undermined as the delegates heard from speakers from Kenya, Mexico and India on the challenges their fellow nurses and practitioners faced in promoting and sustaining public health development in the areas of environment preservation, as well as in the areas of promoting holistic healthcare and wellbeing for the families, communities and society.
Ikuno Yamaguchi, the President of the Catholic Nurses Association Japan, shared with the delegates the long-term suffering of wars and conflicts victims. She urged the delegates not to forget the atomic bombing in Japan at the end of World War II and appealed to the delegates to advocate world peace through their vocation.
Throughout the Congress, the delegates were treated to Malaysian hospitality where various ethnic traditional dishes were offered and cultural dances presented. The Congress ended with the closing Mass at St Joseph’s Cathedral presided over by Archbishop Simon Poh together with Archbishop Emeritus John Ha, Bishop Cornelius Sim who is the President for the Commission Pastoral Health Care of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei. Priests from the participating countries together with local priests also joined in the closing celebration of XX World Congress of CICIAMS.
Ms Catherine Pero, who is the Organising Chairperson of the Working Committee for the CICIAMS’ XX World Congress, shared some of the most challenging moments that she and her Working Committee had have in organising the world-level conference during its four years’ preparation.
“The biggest challenge was the 2Cs: coordination and communication in organising a congress with multiple side programmes. This was because we have three main bodies that are based in three different geographical areas (Ireland, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching) working in the concerted team effort to get the Congress organised. In addition, we have members in our Working Committee from all over Malaysia. Furthermore, there was multi-level of clearance within the Church as well as with the Government that was needed for certain decisions to proceed to the next level.
Through it all, the challenge was to keep all concerned people informed and updated every step of the way.
Secondly, as the registration of participation was done separately by another body, it was difficult to anticipate the needs of the delegates coming from 21 nations world-wide including having a group of Mexicans who are non-English speakers. This required us to source a Spanish translator.
The initial responses from overseas and local delegates were not very encouraging, making it challenging for the Working Committee to define and confirm the various side programmes for the Congress. The local members felt that the Congress fee was beyond their reach. Hence the Working Committee had to raise funds and seek sponsors to assist with the registration fees of the deserving delegates. In this regard, we were most grateful that we managed to receive sponsorship for 8 foreign delegates and 14 local priests and religious from Sabah and Sarawak. Moreover, the Sarawak State Government’s grant of RM40K was timely as it helped to defray some of the organising expenses.”
Catherine Pero is also a Vice President of the Catholic Nurses Guild Malaysia. She is currently a lecturer and the Head of Nursing School at the International College of Advance Technology Sarawak. She has 40 years of nursing experience, including 10 years in practical nursing and 30 years in teaching.
For video interviews of the CICIAMS XX participants, go to www.youtube.com/ArchdioceseofKuching or here.
Today’s Catholic Vol.30 No.7 October 2018