World Health Day: Support Nurses and Midwives

World Health Day: Support Nurses and Midwives

by Hannah Joy on Apr 7 2020 8:41 AM
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Highlights :

  • World Health Day is observed on April 7th every year globally
  • Aims in improving health of all without any financial hardship
  • The theme for the year 2020 is ‘Support Nurses and Midwives’
World Health Day is observed every year globally on April 7th and this year marks the 70th anniversary. The day aims to give people access to healthcare without any financial hardship. The theme for the year 2020 is ‘Support Nurses and Midwives’ and due to the current Coronavirus pandemic, the day might be observed via digital media.


Why Support Nurses and Midwives?

World Health Day 2020 focuses on the crucial role played by nurses and midwives in providing health care around the world. Also, the World Health Organization (WHO) is honoring the work contributed by all the nurses and midwives, who are working hard in making the world a healthier place.
WHO chose this theme to honor the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale. Also, it is essential to strengthen the workforce so that universal health coverage, mental health, maternal and child health, delivery of people-centered care, and infectious and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) can be taken care of globally.

Doctors, nurses and other health workers are putting themselves at risk to protect others during the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus outbreak has shaken the entire world, but the healthcare workers have dedicated themselves and are facing this challenge courageously. Therefore, there is an urgent need to strengthen the workforce to improve overall health, worldwide.

‘Nurses are the backbone of any health system. Today, many nurses find themselves on the frontline in the battle against COVID-19,’ said 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.’


Facts and Statistics

Nurses account for more than half of all the world’s health workers. They are providing vital services throughout the healthcare system. Nurses have always been at the forefront in fighting epidemics and pandemics throughout history.

World Health Organization (WHO) in partnership with the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and Nursing Now has revealed that today:
  • Worldwide, there are approximately 28 million nurses
  • Between 2013 and 2018, nursing numbers increased by 4.7 million
  • However, there is still a global shortfall of 5.9 million
  • 1 out of 6 of the world’s nurses is expected to retire in the next 10 years.
The greatest gaps were found in countries such as Africa, South East Asia, the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region and some parts of Latin America. To prevent this global shortage, there is a need to increase the total number of nursing graduates by an average of eight percent per year

“Every penny invested in nursing raises the wellbeing of people and families in tangible ways that are clear for everyone to see. This report highlights the nursing contribution and confirms that investment in the nursing profession is a benefit to society, not a cost. The world needs millions more nurses, and we are calling on governments to do the right thing, invest in this wonderful profession and watch their populations benefit from the amazing work that only nurses can do,” said ICN President Annette Kennedy.


Recommendations by World Health Organization (WHO)

WHO and its partners have come up with few recommendations for all the 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 - to manage it responsibly and ethically
  • Educate and train nurses - in scientific, technological and sociological skills
  • Establish leadership, even encourage young nurses
  • Ensure nurses work to their full potential
  • Improve working conditions – like fair salaries, safe staffing levels, and respecting rights to occupational health and safety
  • Implement gender-sensitive nursing workforce policies


WHO urges nations to invest in nursing education, create nursing jobs and leadership roles. Let’s come together on this World Health day to support our nurses and midwives because without them our countries cannot win the battle against outbreaks or achieve universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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