WHO Calls for Investment in Nurses

According to the report, if nothing is done to increase on the investment of training health workers, the world likely to have a shortage of 5.9 million nurses globally by 2030
07 Apr 2020 14:13
According to the report, the world needs more nurses

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The World Health Organisation is calling upon governments to invest more in health especially in educating and training nurses. 

This follows the release of the first report that highlights the plight of nurses in many countries.

The report titled, ‘State of the World’s Nursing-Investing in Education, Jobs and Leadership’ was released in commemoration of World Health Day released by WHO in partnership with the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and Nursing Now, reveals that today, there are just under 28 million nurses worldwide.

Between 2013 and 2018, nursing numbers increased by 4.7 million. But this still leaves a global shortfall of 5.9 million - with the greatest gaps found in countries in Africa, South East Asia and the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region as well as some parts of Latin America. 

It highlights the need for countries to educate more nursing staff and put in place favourable working conditions. It also shows that if no investments are made in nursing staff, the world is going to face a shortage in 2030.


Baroness Mary Watkins, the chairperson of the Nursing Now and also a co-author of the reports says that the report shows that something needs to be done urgently to increases the number of nurses in the world especially in this day and age where global pandemics like COVID-19 take a toll on the workforce.

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According to Watkins, for the world to achieve universal health coverage, the number and all Sustainable Development Targets by 2030, the world needs an additional 6 million nurses.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General says that the report is a reminder of the unique role that nurses play in the world. He says it a wakeup call for governments to invest more in their workforce.

“Nurses are the backbone of any health system. Today, many nurses find themselves on the frontline in the battle against Covid-19.  This report is a stark reminder of the unique role they play, and a wakeup call to ensure they get the support they need to keep the world healthy.

One of the things that I hope the world learns from COVID-19 is the need to invest in health workers not just to protect lives but livelihoods as well,” Dr Tedros said.

The report also shows that the number of nurses available in the world to handle all the world’s sick is not enough.

According to the report, the world needs an additional 5.9 million nurses to serve the current global population of 7.8 billion people. 

To stop pending global shortages, Annette Kennedy, the President of the International Council of Nurses says investment in educating professional nursing workforces is important.

“Politicians understand the cost of educating and maintaining a professional nursing workforce, but only now are many of them recognizing their true value. Every penny invested in nursing raises the well-being of people and families in tangible ways that are clear for everyone to see,” she says.

To give the world a better nursing force, the report recommends increasing funding to educate and employ more nurses and to also educate and train nurses in the scientific, technological and sociological skills they need to drive progress in primary health care.