World Health Day 2020: information and messages from WHO

Strengthening nursing and obstetrical staff to achieve health for all

A strong nursing and obstetric workforce is essential to achieving universal health coverage.

Educating nurses and midwives to international standards makes economic sense. It saves resources by avoiding costly and unnecessary interventions, improves the quality of care, and moves towards health for all.

The strengthening and professional development of nurses and midwives are among the most important steps towards achieving universal health coverage and improving global health.

But all too often nurses and midwives are undervalued and cannot develop to their full potential. By 2020, WHO wants all nurses and midwives to be able to work safely, be respected by their physician colleagues and community members, have access to care services that work, and work with other health professionals.

By expanding nursing and obstetric care, countries can improve health, promote gender equality and foster economic growth at the same time.

Strengthening nursing and obstetric care will also promote gender equality (SDO5), contribute to economic development (SDO8) and achieve other sustainable development goals.

Strengthening the leadership and influence of nurses and midwives to improve health services

Nurses and midwives advocate for patients and bring innovations to their communities, clinics, hospitals and the health care system. But they also need to be recognized and given leadership positions to guide health policies and investments.

Nurses and midwives can address many of the world's health problems, but professional, socio-cultural and economic barriers must first be overcome.

Political and financial commitment

Universal health coverage is a political choice. So is national investment in nursing and obstetric care.

Five key actions

  • Invest in more nurse- and midwife-led services to enable nurses and midwives to reach their full potential.
  • Employ more specialized nursing staff.
  • Place midwives and nurses at the heart of primary health care, providing services and mentoring community health workers.
  • Help nurses and midwives promote health and prevent disease.
  • Invest in leadership for nurses and midwives.

State of the World's Nursing Workforce

The report, to be published in April 2020, will provide an overview of the global nursing workforce and facilitate evidence-based planning to optimize nurses' contributions to the health and well-being of all and to make real progress towards CSU and the achievement of the DSOs. The report will outline steps for data collection, policy dialogue, research, advocacy and investment in the health workforce for future generations.

Link to the WHO site.

Link to our LinkedIn publication.

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