press release
Published: 29 July 2019

University of Surrey Recognises Exceptional Nurses’ Contributions to Human Rights

By Natasha Meredith

The International Care Ethics Observatory at the University of Surrey is delighted to announce this year’s recipients of its prestigious Human Rights and Nursing Award.

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Receiving awards are Dorcas Gwata and Yusrita Zolkelfi, who join a distinguished list of nurses who have shown exceptional levels of care and dedication to people in need. Previous recipients of the awards include Will Pooley, who returned to his nursing duties in Sierra Leone after contracting Ebola.

Zimbabwean nurse Dorcas Gwata is a public health specialist and works within Westminster City Council’s ‘Integrated Gangs Unit’ providing physical and mental health support to young people and their families who are affected by gang culture. In addition to this work, Dorcas is also a strong advocate on safeguarding issues for African children across communities including those affected by female genital mutilation, human trafficking, modern slavery and witchcraft branding.

Arriving in the UK from Zimbabwe in 1991, Dorcas began her career as a cleaner and then as a care assistant at the Royal Hospital in Edinburgh. Having completed her training at City University in London, she worked for a number of years in the Accident and Emergency Department at St. Mary’s Hospital in London. Alongside her work in the community, Dorcas is also a visiting Global Mental Health Lecturer at the London School of Tropical Medicine and King’s College London.

Also in receipt of the award is Yusrita Zolkelfi a lecturer in nursing and midwifery at the University of Brunei. Yusrita has been instrumental in the development of the professional ethics curriculum in Brunei and established classes to stimulate debate on aspects of nursing ethics and its relationship to care and development. This has enabled nurses in the country to learn how to better appreciate their beliefs and convictions and those of people with whom they disagree. Yusrita’s work has ensured that all nurses throughout Brunei have the opportunity to engage in ethics education to understand the language of ethics and to use this body of knowledge to improve the care of patients.

The International Care Ethics Observatory, based at the University of Surrey is a leading centre that highlights the importance and complexity of care activities in health and social care and supports innovative and effective interventions that develop ethical care practices.

Ann Gallagher, Director of the International Care Ethics (ICE) Observatory and Professor of Ethics and Care, at the University of Surrey, said: “We are delighted to award this accolade to Dorcas and Yusrita. Nurses and other care-givers are society’s unsung heroes, providing dedicated care to people who need it most whilst also playing a crucial role in training the next generation be it in the class room or on a ward.

“It is important that we recognise this and celebrate the difference nurses make to individuals and communities and the efforts they make to advance human rights around the globe.”

Both recipients received their award at a ceremony at The 20th International Nursing Ethics Conference and the 5th International Care Ethics Conference at the University of Surrey on 24th and 25th July 2019.

Attendees at the conference heard from internationally renowned experts in the field of nursing ethics including Chris Gastmans from KU Leuven in Belgium who delivered a talk on ‘Sexual expression in dementia care, Riitta Suhonen from the University of Turku in Finland on ‘Seeing the individuality of older adults and Jing – Bao Nie from the University of Otago in New Zealand who spoke on the topic of ‘Confucianism,healthy ageing and social eldercare.’

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