Support nurses and midwives

Support nurses and midwives -World Health Day

This is year’s World Health Day is theme is dedicated to Nurses and midwives and it could not be more opt. World Health Day is celebrated every year on April 7th to create awareness about healthy lifestyle with good health.

This year with coronavirus pandemic millions of nurses are working around the clock leaving their comforts and safety and stepping to fight COVID-19 and helping in hospitals and health care facilities. Midwives are helping to keep newborn babies and mothers safe in the facility. For their contributions, World Health Organization asking today to show gratitude to all nurses and midwives.

This year WHO has published key facts about nursing and midwifery.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO Director: Nurses are the backbone of any health system. Today, many nurses find themselves on the frontline in the battle against Covid-19.

“Support our Nurses and Midwives”

  • As part of strong multi-disciplinary health care teams, nurses and midwives make a significant contribution to delivering on the commitments made in the 2018 Astana Declaration on Primary Health Care, ensuring patient-centered care close to the community.
  • Nurses and midwives account for nearly 50% of the global health workforce.
  • There is a global shortage of health workers, in particular nurses and midwives, who represent more than 50% of the current shortage in health workers.
  • The largest needs-based shortages of nurses and midwives are in South East Asia and Africa.
  • For all countries to reach Sustainable Development Goal 3 on health and well-being, WHO estimates that the world will need an additional 9 million nurses and midwives by the year 2030.
  • Nurses play a critical role in health promotion, disease prevention and delivering primary and community care. They provide care in emergency settings and will be key to the achievement of universal health coverage.
  • Achieving health for all will depend on there being sufficient numbers of well-trained and educated, regulated and well supported nurses and midwives, who receive pay and recognition commensurate with the services and quality of care that they provide.
  • Investing in nurses and midwives is good value for money. The report of the UN High Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth concluded that investments in education and job creation in the health and social sectors result in a triple return of improved health outcomes, global health security, and inclusive economic growth.
  • Globally, 70% of the health and social workforce are women compared to 41% in all employment sectors. Nursing and midwifery occupations represent a significant share of the female workforce.

Today (7th April) WHO launched first every State of the World’s Nursing Report 2020. It provides the global picture of the nursing workforce and support evidence-based planning to optimize the contributions of nurses and midwives to improve health of all.  Agenda is to collect data, policy dialogue, research and advocacy, and investment in the present and future health workforce. The report is available in English and six languages (see references).  Says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General. ‘This report is a stark reminder of the unique role they play, and a wakeup call to ensure they get the support they need to keep the world healthy.’

According to the report there are just under 28 million nurses worldwide. Nursing staff numbers increased by 4.7 million between 2013 and 2018 and shortfall of 5.9 million. Nursing staff number is less in Africa, South East Asia and some parts of Latin America. more than 80 per cent of the world’s nurses work in countries that are home to half of the world’s population. And one in every eight nurses’ practices in a country other than the one where they were born or trained. Ageing also threatens the nursing workforce: one out of six of the world’s nurses are expected to retire in the next 10 years.

To increase the nursing workforce globally, WHO (2020) and its partners recommend that all countries:

  • increase funding to educate and employ more nurses;
  • strengthen capacity to collect, analyze and act on data about the health workforce;
  • monitor nurse mobility and migration and manage it responsibly and ethically;
  • educate and train nurses in the scientific, technological and sociological skills they need to drive progress in primary health care;
  • establish leadership positions including a government chief nurse and support leadership development among young nurses;
  • ensure that nurses in primary health care teams work to their full potential, for example in preventing and managing noncommunicable diseases;
  • improve working conditions including through safe staffing levels, fair salaries, and respecting rights to occupational health and safety;
  • implement gender-sensitive nursing workforce policies;
  • modernize professional nursing regulation by harmonizing education and practice standards and using systems that can recognize and process nurses’ credentials globally; and
  • strengthen the role of nurses in care teams by bringing different sectors (health, education, immigration, finance and labor) together with nursing stakeholders for policy dialogue and workforce planning.

Countries cannot battle the diseases and outbreaks such as COVID-19. To achieve good health and wellbeing of all humans we need nurses and health workers.

References: This article key facts and global data is as published by WHO. For more reading please visit:

Image credit: Image by fernando zhiminaicela from Pixabay  (Free for commercial use)

Author: Sumana Rao | Posted on: April 8, 2020

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