World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has praised the crucial work of nurses everywhere, especially their exceptional efforts tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHO designated 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, intending it to be a year-long celebration of the profession, but COVID-19 has put celebrations on hold as nurses around the world work tirelessly to combat the pandemic.
In his opening remarks to the virtual meeting of the World Health Assembly yesterday, Dr Tedros said:
“This Assembly was intended to be a moment of recognition for the incredible contribution that nurses and midwives make every day in every country. The pandemic has robbed us of that opportunity, but it has only served to illustrate why nurses, midwives and all health workers are so important.
’Nurses and midwives have been on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 putting themselves in harm’s way. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of humanity.
‘Last month WHO published the first State of the World’s Nursing report. It shows that the world is facing a shortfall of six million nurses to achieve and sustain universal health coverage. But it also provides a roadmap for governments to invest in nursing, to fill that gap and progress towards universal health coverage, health for all. ‘Now, more than ever, the world needs nurses and midwives. Please join me wherever you are, wherever you are in standing to show your appreciation for these true health heroes.”
Last week, Dr Tedros was briefed by ICN about its work, prior to joining the ICN Board of Directors in a virtual meeting, including ICN President Annette Kennedy.
Ms Kennedy said:
“Dr Tedros has always shown his genuine support for nurses, and it is gratifying that he has taken the time to praise their work during the busy World Health Assembly schedule.
‘Sadly, 2020 has turned out to be anything but a celebration of nursing: the world has been turned upside down by the pandemic and nurses have tragically lost their lives in their efforts to help others fight for theirs.
‘But this tragic year has revealed to a grateful public the vital role of nurses everywhere and highlighted their professionalism and compassion. Dr Tedros is right that the State of the World’s Nursing Report provides a roadmap to a better future. But it will only make a difference if governments take action to implement its findings. They must invest in the nursing workforce and its education and optimise nurses’ contributions to health policy and the provision of health services so that stronger healthcare systems can be created and sustained everywhere.”