Kampala, Uganda | URN| The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on countries to invest in their health workforce in the New Year citing a global shortage of health workers. Nurses and Midwives account for than 50 per cent of the shortage.
In a statement issued on Saturday afternoon, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, said the world needs 18 million more health workers to achieve and sustain universal health coverage by 2030. “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,” he said.
The statement shows the biggest need for nurses and midwives is in South East Asia and Africa, noting that investing in them would make good value for money. It cites a report of the UN High Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth, which concluded that investments in education and job creation in the health and social sectors results in a triple return of improved health outcomes, global health security and inclusive economic growth.
Investing in midwifery alone, where care includes proven interventions for maternal and newborn health as well as for family planning the statement shows could avert over 80 per cent of all maternal deaths, stillbirths and neonatal deaths.
While affirming that 2020 has been declared the international year of the nurse and the midwife, Elizabeth Iro, the WHO Chief Nursing Officer, said nurses and midwives are helping in making progress towards health for all throughout the world since they offer help right from community education to helping in the situation of public health emergencies.
However, while the organization is urging political leaders to increase investment in building effective evidence-based nursing and midwifery workforce the next year, 2020 will also mark the end of the ‘Nursing Now’ global campaign, which has been running since 2018.
The campaign was intended to raise the status of nurses and the profile of nursing profession worldwide and has been running basing on five core areas of having nurses and midwives have a voice in policy making in the respective countries, recruiting them into leadership positions, conducting research that helps determine where nurses can have the greatest impact and sharing of best nursing practices. The statement doesn’t show how much of this has been achieved.