2020 marks International Year of the Nurse, Midwife

2020 marks International Year of the Nurse, Midwife

Monday, January 06, 2020

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By the World Health Organizations' count, nurses and midwives account for the largest proportion of the global health workforce — 50 per cent of the total — but it says a further nine million are needed if the world is to achieve the goal of universal health by 2030.

The chronic shortage is part of the reason the World Health Assembly has designated 2020 the International Year of Nurses and Midwives.

“These professionals play a vital role in providing essential health services at all levels of care and are crucial to promoting health and preventing disease. They care for mothers, children and the elderly, administer life-saving vaccines, and provide health advice, among other actions, “ WHO said.

“In order to recognise their work around the world, [and] advocate for increased investment in this workforce, and for improvements in working conditions, education and professional development, this year is being recognised as international year of nurses and midwives.”

In the Americas, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says 800,000 more health workers are needed, including nurses and midwives.

“In many parts of the world nursing and midwifery professionals constitute the first and sometimes only human resource that is in contact with patients,” said Carissa Etienne, WHO regional director for the Americas and PAHO director. “Investing in nursing and midwifery means advancing towards health for all, which will have a profound effect on global health and well-being,” she added.

The initiative, which will last all year, brings together WHO, PAHO and its partners, including the International Confederation of Midwives, International Council of Nurses, Nursing Now, and the United Nations Population Fund.

The year 2020 was chosen to celebrate the work of nurses and midwives because it is the bicentenary of the birth of the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale.

“Nurses and midwives are the backbone of every health system: in 2020 we're calling on all countries to invest in nurses and midwives as part of their commitment to health for all,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general.

WHO Goodwill ambassadors Alisson Becker and Natália Loewe Becker commented: “We all have things to be thankful for. I'm thankful for the midwives we had when our children were born.”

Said WHO Chief Nursing Officer Elizabeth Iro, “I'm thankful that nurses and midwives are helping make progress towards health for all throughout the world.”


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