COVID-19 nurses on the front line, the world needs millions more

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GENEVA

With the new coronavirus pandemic highlighting the urgent need to strengthen the global health workforce, a report said on Monday that more than 50% of health workers are nurses but found that the current tally of 28 million nurses leaves a deficit of 5.9 million.

“Nurses are the backbone of any health system. Today, many nurses are at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19, “said World Health Organization (WHO) director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a video press conference.

He said that Tuesday was the anniversary of WHO, which is celebrated every year as World Health Day in this International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, which pays tribute to all health workers , especially nurses and midwives.

“The nurses are there from the first moments of life until the last. This report is a stark reminder of the unique role they play and a wake-up call to make sure they get the support they need to keep the world healthy, “said Ghebreyesus.

The new report, The State of the World’s Nursing 2020, examines the most important component of the health workforce.

“One of the lessons I hope the world learns from COVID-19 is that we need to invest in health workers – not only to protect lives but also to protect livelihoods,” said Ghebreyesus.

Mary Watkins, acting president of Nursing Now, a global initiative to raise the profile of nursing, supported her call at another press conference.

“Nursing should be seen as an investment in health in a country, not a cost, and that investment should lead to economic prosperity. And as we see right now, the global economy is being challenged by the pandemic, “said Watkins.

“So when could be a better time to recognize that by investing in the health of a country through the right workforce, it is much more likely that we will return to global economic prosperity.” “

Nurses represent more than half of all health workers worldwide and provide vital services across the health system.

Historically, nurses have been at the forefront of the fight against health epidemics and pandemics around the world.

Data from 191 countries indicates a global nursing stock of around 28 million people in 2018, mostly (69%) professional nurses.

Professional and associate nurses represent approximately 59% of health professionals (doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists, pharmacists) in 172 countries with data.

WHO has declared that nine out of ten nurses in the world are women, with significant regional variations: in the African region, the ratio of women to men is 3: 1. Nurses outnumber women in 13 countries .

There are also large variations in the distribution within regions.

In the Americas region, more than eight out of 10 nurses work in three countries (Brazil, Canada and the United States), which account for 57% of the population.

In the African and Eastern Mediterranean regions, the density of nurses per population varies 100 times from country to country.

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