State of the World’s Nursing report highlights importance of investing in nurses

The first-ever State of the World’s Nursing Report (SOWN), developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in partnership with the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and the Nursing Now (NN) campaign has been launched today. This report highlights the crucial and central role of nurses in strengthening primary health care, achieving universal health coverage (UHC) as well as the Sustainable Development Goals.

Nurses are the backbone of any health system. Today, many nurses find themselves on the frontline in the battle against COVID-19,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “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.”

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, frontline healthcare workers are at high risk of developing the disease. In spite of this, and often without adequate personal protective equipment, nurses continue to work tirelessly to care for their patients. The physical and emotional impact of this work is undeniable, with many nurses suffering the effects of wearing masks for hours on end and battling high levels of stress and anxiety as a result of working in this highly pressured environment, surrounded by the fear and anxiety of patients and their relatives.

Nursing Now’s Lord Nigel Crisp explained, “Nurses are the closest to communities and best placed to respond to health and patient care at a time when emergency preparedness (EPRR) is most needed. Whether dealing hands-on with a global pandemic or the health outcomes from natural disasters – nurses are the healthcare workers at the forefront of community care.”  

Over the course of history, nurses have played a vital role in improving global health. The HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa only started to come under control when nurses began giving patients anti-retroviral treatment. Meanwhile, nurses in the Pacific Islands are playing a leading role in tackling obesity and associated non -communicable diseases. Today, in each and every country around the world, nurses are serving as leaders on the frontline to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control. These nurses are in the vanguard of a change that is happening across the world, but we must not be complacent. It is of paramount importance that we continue to empower nurses, as this is one of the most impactful things we can do to improve health globally. 

ICN President, Annette Kennedy explained, “The publication of the State of the World’s Nursing Report (SOWN) in this time of global crisis highlights the unique and vital role of nurses. In this, the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, the eyes of the world are on our profession in a way that we could not have anticipated. Around the globe, people are realising, sometimes for the first time, the true value of a strong, well-equipped, properly educated and regulated nursing profession.” 

“We don’t know when this terrible pandemic will come to an end, but when it does, nursing will be regarded differently. Governments must ensure that robust measures are put in place to boost our essential profession, strengthen their countries’ resilience and build a system that provides universal healthcare for all.”  ICN President Annette Kennedy.

In this, the Year of the Nurses and the Midwife we must celebrate what nurses do day in, day out around the world and provide them with the recognition they deserve as they work to nurse the world back to health.