Nigerian nurses and midwives

By Sola Ogundipe

AS the world marked the 2020 World Health Day, April 7, The World Health Organisation, WHO says the  world needs no less than six million more nurses to achieve global health targets, with the low and lower middle-income countries suffering the most acute nurse shortages.

Calling for investment in a massive acceleration of nursing education, the WHO laments that there are not enough nurses to meet global development goals on health – even without a global pandemic.

According to the report, entitled: “State of the World’s Nursing”, there was a global shortage of 5.9 million nurses in 2018, a slight improvement from the 6.6 million shortage in 2016.

The report, this year is focused on supporting nurses and midwives, many of whom are serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response.

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“The nursing workforce is expanding in size and professional scope. However, the expansion is not equitable, is insufficient to meet rising demand, and is leaving some populations behind,” the authors write.

They call for the creation of at least six million new nursing jobs by 2030, primarily in low- and middle-income countries, to achieve the global development goals on health. Sustainable Development Goal 3 aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being at all ages, which includes the provision of universal health coverage. There are 27.9 million nurses around the world, an increase of 4.7 million between 2013 and 2018.

Nursing is the largest occupational group in the health-care sector, accounting for roughly 59 percent of health professions, WHO says. There are just under 28 million nurses worldwide, about 5.9 million short of what the world needs to adequately care for the growing population, according to the report published  from WHO, the International Council of Nurses and Nursing Now.

More than 80 percent of the world’s nurses work in countries that account for half of the world’s population, according to the report’s findings.

“Nurses are the backbone of the health system,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. “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.”


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