On the occasion of the International Day of the Nurse and the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the World Health Organization (WHO) joins hundreds of partners worldwide to highlight the importance of nurses in the healthcare continuum and thank nurses for what they do. The theme for this year is” Nursing the World to Health”.
Historically, as well as today, nurses are at the forefront of fighting epidemics and pandemics – providing high quality and respectful treatment and care. They are often the first and sometimes the only health professional that people see and the quality of their initial assessment, care and treatment is vital.
Nurses account for more than half of all the world’s health workers, yet there is an urgent shortage of nurses worldwide with 5.9 million more nurses still needed, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
The Covid-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the vital role nurses play. Without nurses and other health workers, we will not win the battle against outbreaks, we will not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals or universal health coverage.
As we mark this, day, we urge countries to ensure:
- the occupational safety and health of nurses and all health workers, including notably, unhindered access to personal protective equipment so they can safely provide care and reduce infections in health care settings.
- nurses and all health care workers have access to mental health support, timely pay, sick leave and insurance; as well as access to the most up-to-date knowledge and guidance required to respond to all health needs, including outbreaks.
- nurses are given the financial support and other resources required to help respond to and control COVID-19 and future outbreaks
In this year of the Nurse and the Midwife, now more than ever, it is essential that governments support and invest in their nurses. COVID19 reinforces the need for investment in nursing jobs, education, leadership.
In April, WHO and partners launched the first ever State of the Worlds’ Nursing Report, which provides a snapshot of the global nursing workforce as well as highlights the scale of the challenge we face and provides feasible policies for governments to invest in nursing so that Health for All can become a reality.
By developing their nursing workforces, countries can achieve the triple impact of improving health, promoting gender equality and supporting economic growth. Strengthening nursing will have the additional benefits of promoting gender equity (SDG5), contributing to economic development (SDG8) and supporting other Sustainable Development Goals.
REMEMBER HEALTH HEROS
On Monday 11th May, the eve of International Nurses Day, ICN, WHO and Nursing Now are encouraging people to take part in a moment of reflection to honour the memory of nurses and health workers who have tragically died during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We hope that as many people as possible from around the world will take part in this global moment of reflection by sharing one of our social media tiles (see below), along with the hashtag, #RememberHealthHeroes. Alternatively, you can share a photo of yourself with a lit candle with the hashtag #RememberHealthHeroes or record a short video of you and your colleagues either lighting a candle or using your mobile phone light, to show your respect for the health workers lost to this pandemic.