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Appeal for visits to elderly and sick

On Sunday, Switzerland will be marking the National Day of the Sick, an appeal to visit the ill and the elderly. It is also an effort to hightlight the work done by nurses and thousands of voluntary workers in caring for the sick.

This content was published on March 3, 2000 - 23:07

On Sunday, Switzerland will be marking the National Day of the Sick, an appeal to visit the ill and the elderly. It is also an effort to hightlight the work done by nurses and thousands of voluntary workers in caring for the sick.

The idea to mark the first Sunday of March as a day of solidarity goes back more than 50 years.

It was a Swiss doctor, Marthe Nicati, who noticed how tuberculosis patients in her Leysin clinic often suffered relapses after the long winters. Dr Nicati soon realised that sadness and depression were the cause, a state she could directly relate to the lack of bedside visits by friends and relatives.

Fifty years on, the National Day of the Sick is bringing attention not only to the sick and elderly but also to those caring for the ill.

It's a day when Switzerland's president calls on the nation to exercise more solidarity towards those in need and a day when a chosen personality also raises awareness of the issue.

This year the message comes from Gro Harlem Bruntland, head of the Geneva-based World Health Organisation, whose message calls for a just system of compensation for women to maintain a good health care system.

Women, who are by far the most active in caring for the sick, are being placed at the centre of this year's campaign. The day's theme is: "Is caring for the sick really a concern to women only?"

By Michael Morris

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