The World Health Organization (WHO) executive board announced on January 30 that it had accepted the proposal that 2020 be officially declared “Year of the Nurse and Midwife.” The designation will honor the essential role of nurses and midwives across the world in achieving universal health coverage.
The proposal still has to be endorsed by member states at the World Health Assembly in May to make it official. Nursing Now, who proposed the idea last year, is confident that it would be accepted by the Assembly, given the overwhelming support by the WHO executive board.
In addressing the executive, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, emphasized that nurses are crucial to achieving Universal Health Coverage as outlined in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). “Nurses, especially in low and middle-income countries, are the bridge between the community and health institutions,” he said. “Their role, especially in the frontline services is very, very important.”
Celebrating Florence Nightingale
Celebrating the year of the nurse in 2020 is all the more significant because it is the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale. “We need to celebrate people like her who have contributed greatly to humanity,” explained Dr. Tedros.
Both the International Council of Nurses and Nursing Now were delighted by the endorsement to celebrate nurses and midwives globally during 2020. “This exciting proposal of the Year of the Nurse and Midwife in 2020 will go a long way to raising the profile of nursing and highlighting the importance of the need for more well-educated nurses, of investing in recruitment and retention strategies and of removing the barriers to the development of advanced nursing roles that are proving highly effective at expanding healthcare coverage,” said Annette Kennedy, President of the ICN.
Nurses make up more than 50% of the health workforce in most countries and strengthening their role will also support other the SDG’s, especially those of promoting gender equity and economic development.
2020 State of the World’s Nursing and Midwifery reports
The WHO is also leading the first-ever report on the worldwide state of the nursing workforce which is due to be launched just before the 2020 World Health Assembly. The report aims to inform policy development and to drive investment in nursing. A similar report on the state of midwifery is also expected. The data for the reports will be collected from member states during this year and the WHO has appealed to governments and nurse leaders to actively engage with this process to ensure that quality data is obtained.
2020 is promising to be a great year for the future of nursing.