Investment in nurses and midwives crucial to global commitment to UHC

On this UHC day, Mark Britnell, Global Chairman & Senior Partner for Health, Government & Infrastructure at KPMG discusses the role of nurses and midwives in tackling the global workforce crisis in healthcare.


We are hurtling towards a global workforce crisis in healthcare. By 2030, the World Health Organization estimates the world will be short of 18 million health workers – one fifth of the capacity needed to care. To have any chance of achieving Universal Health Care (UHC) in the same time-frame, countries will need to think radically differently about the way they train, deploy and look after their health workers, particularly nurses and midwives. 

Nurses and midwives make up half of our total health workforce. They are perfectly placed to deliver the kind of integrated, primary care-led and community-based services that UHC will require. But too often their professional potential goes unrealised– both as practitioners and leaders. Why is it that in some countries, nurses are able to perform caesarean sections, lead HIV/AIDS programmes or serve as Health Minister, while in others, they may not even administer an IV drug without a doctor present? 

Next year, the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, will mark 200 years since the birth of Florence Nightingale. What better way to celebrate her legacy, than to commit to the development of these noble and vital professions? To invest in their education and training, their leadership skills and the day to day working lives of their members?

That is why I am delighted to support Nursing Now’s ambitious Nightingale Challenge – asking every health employer worldwide, to provide leadership and development training to a group of young nurses and midwives in their organisation. Its goal is to empower over 20,000 more nurses and midwives to influence and lead their profession by the end of 2030, and in doing so, not only deliver better health outcomes for their patients, but to generate better gender equality and encourage better economic growth. For as I have long said, health is wealth – not just for our patients but for our valued staff as well.