7 April 2020 – Nurses account for more than half of all the world’s health workers, providing vital services throughout the health system. Around the world they are demonstrating their compassion, bravery and courage as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and never before has their value been more clearly demonstrated.
A new report, by WHO in partnership with the International Council of Nurses and Nursing Now, released today, reveals that, there are just under 28 million nurses worldwide. Between 2013 and 2018, nursing numbers increased by 4.7 million. But this still leaves a global shortfall of 5.9 million – with the greatest gaps found in countries in Africa, South East Asia and the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region as well as some parts of Latin America.
The State of the World’s Nursing 2020, provides an in-depth look at the largest component of the health workforce. Findings identify important gaps in the nursing workforce and priority areas for investment in nursing education, jobs, and leadership to strengthen nursing around the world and improve health for all.
“Nurses are the backbone of any health system. Today, many nurses find themselves on the frontline in the battle against Covid-19. 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.” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General
“Politicians understand the cost of educating and maintaining a professional nursing workforce, but only now are many of them recognising their true value. 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.” Annette Kennedy, ICN President
“This report places much-needed data and evidence behind calls to strengthen nursing leadership, advance nursing practice, and educate the nursing workforce for the future, said. The policy options reflect actions we believe all countries can take over the next ten years to ensure there are enough nurses in all countries, and that nurses use of the full extent of their education, training, and professional scope to enhance primary health care delivery and respond to health emergencies such as COVID-19. This must start with broad and intersectoral dialogue which positions the nursing evidence in the context of a country’s health system, health workforce, and health priorities.” Lord Nigel Crisp, Co-Chair of Nursing Now