The 49th Florence Nightingale Medal Award Ceremony

Statement delivered by ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric at the 49th Florence Nightingale Medal Award Ceremony, Red Cross Society of China – Great Hall of the People, Beijing.

Your Excellencies,

Distinguished Awardees of the Florence Nightingale Medal,

Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the International Committee of the Red Cross, I am delighted to attend the Award Ceremony of the Florence Nightingale Medal today.

I am pleased to be visiting China for the first time in my tenure as President of the ICRC. I highly value the strategic and multidimensional relationship of the ICRC with China.

This year, we celebrate the 160th founding anniversary of the ICRC and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. From the beginning, the initial purpose of our organization was to provide neutral and impartial medical assistance to those wounded on the battlefield.

Over the years, medical assistance has consistently remained at the heart of the ICRC's humanitarian operations worldwide, in our endeavor to protect civilians from the horrors and the consequences of wars.

Working through International Humanitarian Law, which has the Geneva Conventions as its cornerstone, caring for the wounded and sick in armed conflict will remain a key priority for the ICRC.

In honour of the pioneering nurse Florence Nightingale, the ICRC created the Florence Nightingale Medal in 1912, the highest international distinction in the nursing profession. It recognizes exceptional courage and devotion to victims of armed conflict or natural disasters; and commends exemplary service or a pioneering spirit in public health or nursing education.

It is my pleasure, on behalf of the ICRC, to extend heartfelt congratulations to the seven Chinese nurses who were awarded the 49th attribution of the Medal this year, together with 30 other nurses and voluntary nursing aides from 21 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The Award has more significance this year, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the China Medical Teams abroad. Through the sustained deployment of medical expertise to countries and people in need, China has demonstrated a commitment to medical aid.

I would like to take a moment to commend the Red Cross Society of China's awardees:

Ms Chen Jing, Chief Nurse of the Hemodialysis Center of the Second Affiliated Hospital of the Naval Medical University. Devoted to nursing profession for 33 years, Chen joined the Ebola operation in Liberia as part of China Medical Team and undertook the Mission Harmony at the Hospital Ship "Ark Peace".

Ms Xing Shaoyun, Head Nurse of the Leprosarium of the Fifth People's Hospital of Hainan Province. Xing notably transformed traditional leprosy nursing model and introduced novel leprosy wound treatment into China.

Ms Liu Xiaojuan, former Head Nurse, Department of Internal Medicine, Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, Capital Medical University of China. For 36 years, Liu has engaged in nursing education and voluntary nursing service during natural disasters and pandemic outbreaks.

Ms Gan Xiuni, Director of the Nursing Department of the Second Affiliated hospital of Chongqing Medical University. Gan has distinguished herself as a critical care specialist and made a remarkable contribution to disaster relief, public health and nursing education for more than 40 years.

Ms Zhao Xuehong, Deputy Director of the Nursing Department of the First Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine. Zhao joined the Ebola operation in Liberia as part of China Medical Team and developed innovative initiatives to improve and promote high-quality nursing.

Ms Jiang Yan, Director of Nursing Department in the West China Hospital, Sichuan University. Jiang notably improved the development of evidence-based nursing in Sichuan and was also deployed for the COVID-19 response in Ethiopia and Djibouti as part of China Medical Team.

Ms Zhang Yinghui, Deputy Director of Nursing Department of the Second Hospital of Shanxi Medical University. Zhang is active in disaster response and nursing education.

Dear awardees: you have not only made an exceptional contribution in your respective professional fields, but also demonstrated the spirit of Florence Nightingale in COVID-19 response, which is to protect life with dedication, professionalism and exceptional courage.

You are held in high regard for your distinctive service. By dedicating your lives to help people in need, you embody the meaning of the Red Cross Red Crescent Fundamental Principles through your actions and practice China's initiative to build a community with a shared future for mankind.

China has the highest number of awardees this year. Allow me to express my sincere congratulations for this. I also take this opportunity to pay a tribute to all medical personnel working on the front lines to reduce suffering in conflicts and disasters.

Thank you.