WHO urges investment in nursing and midwifery   

The work of nurses and midwives will be celebrated worldwide next year, with the World Health Organization declaring 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

Lori-Anne Sharp, the ANMF Assistant Federal Secretary, said the national body will be using the year to showcase the important work nurses and midwives do. “We plan to bring nursing and midwife delegates together with politicians and policymakers in 2020 to have conversations about how to improve global health and wellbeing.

“The focus of the Year of the Nurse and Midwife is on universal health care, and while we do have universal health care in Australia, we want to highlight the issues of accessibility of health care 
to marginalised communities,” Lori says.

“We will also be running events throughout the country next year, which will be a celebration and acknowledgement and recognition of the great work that nurses and midwives do.

“We want to get positive and inspiring stories out there, because there are so many different roles and so many fields that nurses and midwives work in.”

Lori-Anne said the ANMF will announce specific activities for 2020 later in the year, but the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, and the related Nursing Now campaign, will be a key theme of the ANMF’s biennial delegates conference in Melbourne in October.

Nurses essential to universal health coverage

Announcing the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, said: “These two health professions are invaluable to the health of people everywhere. Without nurses and midwives, we will not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals or universal health coverage.”

Dr Ghebreyesus described nurses as the “bridge” of healthcare, a crucial link between members of the community and the complex healthcare system.

Because nurses are on the “front lines” of healthcare, he said WHO will use the year to highlight the need for all countries to be investing in nursing and midwifery.

Nurses and midwives constitute more than 50 per cent of the health workforce in many countries, and they are also more than 50 per cent of the shortfall in the global health workforce to 2030. Dr Ghebreyesus said strengthening nursing will have the additional benefits of promoting gender equity, contributing to economic development and supporting other Sustainable Development Goals.

In 2020 WHO will release two reports, State of the World’s Nursing and State of the World’s Midwifery, which will assess nursing and midwifery workforces in all WHO member states and report on their ability to meet WHO targets.

A new vision for nursing

The International Council of Nurses – the international body which includes members such as the ANMF – welcomed the announcement. President Annette Kennedy said: “The 20 million nurses around the world will be thrilled to see their profession recognised in this way.”

She said the designation of 2020 was especially welcome as it coincides with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, one of the founders of modern nursing.

“Florence Nightingale used her lamp to illuminate the places where nurses worked, and I hope the designation of 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife will provide us with a new, 20-20 vision of what nursing is in the modern era, and how nurses can light the way to universal health coverage and healthcare for all.”