2020 is Year of the Nurse and Midwife!

2020 is an exciting year for nurses and midwives around the world. As announced in the 72nd World Health Assembly in Geneva, the World Health Organization will work together with its partners and collaborating centers to recognize 2020 as Year of the Nurse & Midwife.

In honor of the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale and in recognition of the important role both nurses and midwives play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and universal health coverage, the Year of the Nurse & Midwife 2020 will be filled with many important reports, events, and opportunities. The Global Network WHOCCs for Nursing & Midwifery will recognize and be participating in many of these, including:

The WHO State of the World’s Nursing report will be released in 2020 as part of the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. This report will describe how the nursing workforce contributes to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Together with a technical description of the nursing workforce in Member States, the report will highlight areas for policy development for the next three to five years. The third State of the World’s Midwifery report will also be released during 2020, presenting the growth and anticipated challenges in the coverage and quality of midwifery services.

WHO’s State of the World’s Nursing report will be developed in close collaboration with the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and the NursingNow campaign. The State of the World’ Midwifery 2020 report will be a joint endeavor of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

To celebrate 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, the NursingNow campaign and its strategic partners have developed the Nightingale Challenge. This initiative aims to equip and empower the next generation of nurses and midwives as leaders, practitioners and advocates in health. The Nightingale Challenge asks every health employer around the world to provide leadership and development training for a group of their young nurses and midwives during 2020. The purpose of the Nightingale Challenge is to help develop the next generation of young nurses and midwives as leaders, practitioners and advocates in health, and to demonstrate that nursing and midwifery are exciting and rewarding careers.

With support from NHS England, the Nightingale Challenge seeks to have at least 1,000 employers participate, benefiting over 20,000 nurses and midwives aged 35 and under during 2020. Other regions of the world may help to extend this vision by developing their own goals and objectives with health administrators and employers in their local areas.

The NursingNow Campaign is an international movement with the vision to improve health globally by raising the profile and status of nurses worldwide. NursingNow aims to engage policy makers and nurses themselves to better lead, learn and build a global movement around the nursing workforce. 

NursingNow is a growing social movement built on the recognition that nurses play a critical role in health promotion and disease prevention and intervention among their patients, communities, colleagues, clinics, and hospitals. As the health professionals who are closest to the community, they have a particular role in developing new models of community-based care and supporting local efforts to promote health and prevent disease. By developing nursing and midwifery, countries can achieve the triple impact of improving health, promoting gender equality and supporting economic growth. The campaign seeks to work with partners around the world to advocate for more nurses in leadership positions, help nurses access better education and training, sharing their research and evidence of effective practice, and introduce new models of care that maximize nurses’ contributions to achieving UHC.

NursingNow is an active network of groups working to influence global and national policy. Today, there are 266 Nursing Now groups active in 89 countries (as of June 2019) with new groups registering and launching every month. The campaign is a programme of the Burdett Trust for Nursing run in collaboration with the WHO and ICN, all of which are supported by a Campaign Board made up of nurses and non-nurses from around the world.

Nurses and midwives are essential components of safe, effective, and quality health delivery, including the provision and management of personal, family, and community care and treatment.1  Nurses are frequently sought members of the health system, trusted by their peers and colleagues. They are also integral members of their communities, with key knowledge of the strengths and vulnerabilities facing their daily work and contribution.2

The WHO’s Global strategic directions for strengthening nursing and midwifery 2016–2020 provides a framework for key stakeholders to develop, implement and evaluate nursing and midwifery professional development and accomplishments. Through this report, collaborations with the WHOCCNM, and other initiatives, the WHO celebrates the value of nurses and midwives, acknowledging:3

      • Nurses and midwives account for nearly 50% of the global health workforce.
      • There is a global shortage of health workers, in particular nurses and midwives, who represent more than 50% of the current shortage in health workers.
      • The largest needs-based shortages of nurses and midwives are in South East Asia and Africa.
      • For all countries to reach Sustainable Development Goal 3 on health and well-being, WHO estimates that the world will need an additional 9 million nurses and midwives by the year 2030.
      • Nurses play a critical role in health promotion, disease prevention and delivering primary and community care. They provide care in emergency settings and will be key to the achievement of UHC.
      • Investing in nurses and midwives is good value for money. The report of the UN High Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth concluded that investments in education and job creation in the health and social sectors result in a triple return of improved health outcomes, global health security, and inclusive economic growth.
      • Globally, 70% of the health and social workforce are women compared to 41% in all employment sectors. Nursing and midwifery occupations represent a significant share of the female workforce.