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2020: Year of the Nurse and the Midwife

By Team Altus | Published Jan 05, 2020 | 15 MIN READ

Nurses and midwives heal and touch our lives in profound ways when we are most vulnerable with their skill and compassion. The work they face day in and day out is challenging, demanding and selfless.

Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020

In 2020, the world is focusing on strengthening nursing and midwifery for universal health coverage. The year has been designated as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” by The World Health Organization (WHO). The year marks the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

WHO is made up of expert committees across six regions that address critical healthcare challenges around the world. Founded on April 7th, 1948, a date we celebrate annually as World Health Date.

Strengthening Numbers Globally

Nurses and midwives account for nearly 50% of the global health workforce. Out of the 43.5 million healthcare workers in the world, its estimated 20.7 million workers are nurses and midwives.

On the report of the 2017 Global Health Observatory, WHO Member States reported having 3 nurses or midwives to 1000 residents. 25% reported to having less than one midwife or nurse per 1000.

According to WHO, women account for 70% of the global health and social workforce.

By 2030, the world needs to add 9 million more nurses and midwives to meet the needs of universal health care coverage, with the largest need-based shortages in South East Asia and Africa.

How 2020 Became Year of the Nurse and Midwife

The process of looking at nurses and universal healthcare started a few years ago with the work from the Nursing Now! Campaign. The evidence, work and results from this campaign greatly influenced WHO’s decision.

When it came to choosing 2020’s universal healthcare theme, after much discussion the WHO board unanimously voted to celebrate and to take action in investing in nurses and midwives.

Because of the need for nurses in the next decade, WHO and its partners are advocating for greater investment in nurses and midwives around the world in 2020.

Midwives play an important role in healthcare. It’s not just about delivering babies. They have an active role in antenatal care, neonatal care and even mental health. Their extensive range of healthcare services goes on. WHO is making it their mission to maximize those.

Strengthening these crucial roles will have the additional benefits of promoting gender equality, contribute to economic development, and support other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Since the majority of the nursing population is women, that leaves the opportunity to provide decent work for women.

The year is to celebrate their role, contributions and recognize and respect what they do. And to take action. There is a decade left for us to come together to create and maintain a sustainable workforce through investing.

Why the World Needs More Healthcare Professionals

The baby boomer generation produced 76 million people. Nearly, 11,000 people are retiring per day. Not only do we need new nurses and midwives to replace these jobs, but boomers are living longer than previous generations, therefore, increasing the demand for healthcare.

A report by Evaluate Pharma projected a 6.3% global growth rate in the pharmaceutical industry through 2022. With the growing demand comes an increased need for healthcare professionals in this field.

New technology continues to enter the healthcare industry daily. For example, workstations on wheels bring technology to the point of care. Clinicians can enter EMRs, administer medication and perform other tasks all next to the patient bedside.

As technology changes healthcare, there is an increased demand for healthcare professionals that will create, analyze and manage the new technologies.

Nurse and Midwife Roles

When families walk into a healthcare center, they most likely will engage with the nurse or midwife. In many countries, they are often the first and sometimes the only contact we have when we go into a healthcare service in our community. This is because their roles cover so much around the healthcare systems.

Their roles extend beyond primary care. You find nurses and midwives in community care, public health and health education centers to specialized roles in hospitals and end of life care.

Universal Health Challenges Faced

People around the world want to make sure they have healthcare for themselves, children, parents and peers.

The demand and expectation for healthcare is increasing worldwide. The cost of healthcare is simultaneously increasing.

Many communities don’t have access to resources such as water, sanitation or supplies. Education systems aren’t set up students for the best success in their roles. Work conditions are bleak, understaffed and inefficient. Some workers aren’t given the autonomy to do the services they studied. Wages aren’t adequate. Some hospitals are under attack. Or personally, individuals are going through their own battles.

Personal or systematic, the challenges are everywhere.

2020 Goals

Nurses and midwives will be celebrated in this first period and then action will be taken to help governments invest in education, employment and retention.

WHO will work on supporting governments by helping them look at key issues they might be faced with. This engagement will lead to solutions that will work for governments locally.

WHO plans to look specifically at each area to see what solutions could work and in what context. They plan to involve key stakeholders such as the government and the youth and not just ministries of health, but miniseries of labor, employment and finance.

  • Celebrate the contributions of nurses and midwives
  • Acknowledge, appreciate and address the challenging conditions nurses and midwives face while providing care
  • Advocate for increased investments in the nursing and midwifery workforce

The Role of Youth

The world’s youth are not only the beneficiaries of healthcare services, but they are an active part of today’s workforce and the future workforce to provide universal healthcare for all.

In many countries, the nursing workforce is aging. Every day, more and more youth will continue to join the industry, increasing their size in the workforce.

Because of this, WHO is making it part of its mission to include the youth in discussion and planning. A group of youth will be included in meetings and panels to contribute and voice their thoughts and opinions.

Key Players

As WHO continues to target the determinants of universal healthcare, they must collaborate with other key players to deliver on programs.

WHO has come to a consensus that education and training, policy development, maximizing capacities and evidence-based workforce development is essential for improving global health through nursing and midwifery. But it takes a village, and partnerships are needed to make these programs a reality.

Key partners include the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), International Council of Nurses (ICN), Nursing Now and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The youth, governments, and ministries of health, labor, employment and finance also will support the campaign.

The yearlong effort will advocate for greater investments in the workforce, acknowledge and address challenging conditions faced, and recognize and celebrate the contributions of nurses and wife wives.

Combating Nurse Shortage

The nursing shortage is a global issue, alarming for both 3rd world and developed countries.

One way WHO plans to combat that issue is to take a hard look at the evidence from the first-ever World State of Nursing report. They will examine and report on what works where in which country and share that with the world.

The evidence shows the importance of investing in education and training, work standards and recruitment. If the world doesn’t invest, the shortage of nurses and midwives will continue.

WHO will help countries with a plan of action to obtain a sustainable workforce.

Nursing and Midwifery Resource Centre

WHO is committed to global public health information through multiple mechanisms.

The Nursing and Midwifery resource centre is an online portal where you can find guidelines, documents and other riches. The resources are dedicated to voicing the importance of regulations, education and training, and practice of nursing and midwifery.

Broken down by regions, the information is to be used to introduce and improve nursing and midwifery services to individuals and groups in benefitting countries.

The website offers a variety of resources such as implementation tools, guidance and evidence, service delivery approaches, education and training, mobile and digital health apps and other materials that communicate public health information.

Additionally, the resource portal was built with the healthcare community in mind. The portal features feedback forms to give the user a voice on what they found useful or how they think the site or information can improve.

First-Ever State of the World’s Nursing (SoWN) Report

WHO is the leader of the development of the first-of-its-kind State of the World’s Nursing (SoWN) report.

The report set to come out in 2020 will convey crucial information on how the nursing workforce will help fulfill universal health coverage and sustainable development goals for the next three to five years.

An illustration of the current nursing workforce in Member States will be depicted. Also accounted for will be the quantity and classification of nurses. Education, regulation, practice, leadership and gender issues will also be accounted for.

Launching in 2020, before the 73rd World Health Assembly on May 17th-21st, 2020 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Nursing Now! Campaign

Nursing Now! Is a campaign that began in 2018 and will end in 2021. The purpose of the campaign is to improve the profile and status of nurses in the world to ultimately improve healthcare.

When choosing a 2020 theme, WHO’s decision was greatly influenced by the findings and results of the Nursing Now! Campaign.

Dialogue around the SoWN report is hopeful to accelerate actions taken to support nurses by countries across the world.

How to Support the Year of the Nurse and Midwife Campaign

We can all celebrate and respect nurses and midwives as part of the healthcare team. Next time you see a nurse, thank them!

Longer-term actions are making sure government, education and other organizational systems see the importance of investing in nurses and midwives. Education systems should be producing graduates that are fit for purpose. Governments should see the value of the investment and alter budgets to account for action items.

Get social! To join the conversation, use hashtags such as:

  • #OurNurseMidwife2020
  • #2020NurseAndMidwife
  • #SupportNursesAndMidwive
  • #Nurses2020
  • #Midwives2020

Every big and small contribution will collectively help the world step in the right direction by the end of 2020.

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