Nursing as a profession has evolved from women serving as wet-nurses to the present day where nurses make up over half of the world’s health workers. Marking their service to the world and their importance in the healthcare sector, the tagline of World Health Day 2020 is ‘Support nurses and midwives’. This is in complement to WHO marking 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.
The World Health Organisation marks World Health Day on April 7th every year since 1950. Each year a new theme is defined to raise awareness around the globe. The theme also marks an area of priority and concern for the organization. This year, the theme marks WHO recommendations such as the need for better investment in nursing education, improvement in working conditions, gender-sensitive workforce policies, and more to make conditions better for nurses and midwives.
“Politicians understand the cost of educating and maintaining a professional nursing workforce, but only now are many of them recognizing their true value,” said Annette Kennedy, President of the International Council of Nurses. “Every penny invested in nursing raises the wellbeing of people and families in tangible ways that are clear for everyone to see. This report highlights the nursing contribution and confirms that investment in the nursing profession is a benefit to society, not a cost. The world needs millions of more nurses, and we are calling on governments to do the right thing, invest in this wonderful profession and watch their populations benefit from the amazing work that only nurses can do.”
The total number of nurses worldwide is close to 28 million, and yet there is a global shortfall of 5.9 million. A joint report released by WHO, ICN and Nursing Now on this occasion reveals that the largest gap pockets with this need are found in Africa, South East Asia, and some parts of the Eastern Mediterranean region as well as Latin America.
Parallel to recognizing the contributions of nurses and midwives on World Health Day 2020, the WHO also launched the #BeActive campaign along with the UN and FIFA to mark the UN International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. Against the backdrop of practices such as lockdown, quarantines, and social distancing to fight COVID-19, the campaign urges people to be active. Standard recommendations require healthy adults to perform physical activity for 30 minutes per day and children to practice the same for 60 minutes. The video campaign, along with #BeActive, is marked by #HealthyAtHome.