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WHO Announces 9 Million Shortage Of Nurses, Midwives Globally

WHO Announces 9 Million Shortage Of Nurses, Midwives Globally.

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The World Health Organisation has announced that the world needs nine million more nurses and midwives.

The UN health agency said this would enable them to realise the health-related global Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

This was announced by the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti.

She disclosed this at the Nurses’ Day 2022 with the theme: “Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Invest in Nursing and Respect Rights”.

Dr Moeti said the African Region experienced a shortage of nurses. She explained that this margin may affect the goal of the Universal Health Coverage. 

The Regional Director said the recent estimates were 1.6 million nurses and midwives across the 47 member states.

She said:

“A total of 66 per cent of nurses are concentrated in six countries: Algeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa.”

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She stated that the COVID-19 global health emergency exposed the shortage of nurses in Africa and globally.

According to her,

“Nigeria has the highest share of the headcount of nurses at 21 per cent followed by South Africa at 18 per cent.”

On average, the WHO Africa analysis indicated 60 nurses and midwives per 10,000 persons. This is a very complex unit for reaching 70 per cent of the Universal Health Coverage.

Dr Moeti further explained that some countries had less than 20 nurses and midwives per 10,000 persons.

She continued:

“Nurses have a critical role to play in Primary Health Care delivery, often being the first and only health professional a patient will see.

“They contribute to research, disease prevention, treating the injured, administering palliative care, and more.

“They are the true unsung heroes on the front lines of disease prevention and care.’’

The health expert spoke on investing in health personnel.

She explained that the UN High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth acknowledged that investment in health sectors was good value for money.

The Commission says the investment would be in:

  • Education.
  • Job creation.

It would boost global health securities, economic growth and the overall health sector.

She said:

“Emphasising the true value of our nurses, and the central role they have to play in influencing change can transform the future of health care in Africa.

“Throughout the pandemic, nurses made great sacrifices, acted courageously, and recommitted daily to tackle a global health threat that is unprecedented in modern times.

“Serving as an indispensable pillar supporting African health care systems through some very challenging times.”

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She added that “as WHO in Africa, we are supporting member states to strengthen nursing and midwifery through the implementation of the Global Strategic Directions for Nursing and Midwifery (SDNM) 2021-2025.

“Also with an inter-related set of policy priorities to guide the contributions of nurses and midwives to achieve Universal Health Coverage and other population health goals.

“In our continuing efforts to give nurses a voice, WHO established the Nursing and Midwifery Global Community of Practice Virtual Network.”

The Regional Director said the network was a global platform for nurses and midwives. This would be a collaboration with WHO and other key stakeholders.

She urged African governments to assist in investments that improve the attractiveness of the nursing profession.

Moeti continued: “This will require proper equipment, better working conditions, appropriate education, upskilling opportunities, and job creation.

“Nursing leadership also needs to be optimised with chief nursing and midwifery officers mandated to drive the nursing agenda across education, employment, policy and practice.

“Around 80 per cent of primary healthcare can be delivered by nurses.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has served as an important platform to reiterate how integral nurses are to the maintenance of routine health care delivery, while also responding to a global crisis.”

Moeti emphasised the investment in the nursing profession. She said that it is time to commit to action.

She concluded: “The International Nurses’ Day 2022 is celebrated annually on 12 May in memory of the birth of the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale.

“Also to honour nurses as an invaluable resource, and raise awareness of the challenges they face.”
Source: PUNCH Health Wise

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