Shortfall of 5.9 Million Nurses Worldwide: WHO
The World Health Organisation has
released The State of the World's Nursing 2020 with an urgent call to increase
the investment in nursing and fill the gaps in the workforce. The priority
areas of investment are in nursing education, jobs and leadership to improve
the health of all. Nurses account for more than half of all the world’s health
workers, providing vital services throughout the health system. Historically,
as well as today, nurses are at the forefront of fighting epidemics and
pandemics that threaten health across the globe. Around the world they are
demonstrating their compassion, bravery and courage as they respond to the
COVID-19 pandemic: never before has their value been more clearly demonstrated.
‘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.’
The report, by the World Health Organization (WHO) in partnership with the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and Nursing Now, reveals that today, there are just under 28 million nurses worldwide. Between 2013 and 2018, nursing numbers increased by 4.7 million. But this still leaves a global shortfall of 5.9 million - with the greatest gaps found in countries in Africa, South East Asia and the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region as well as some parts of Latin America.
Revealingly, more than 80 per cent of the world’s nurses work in countries that are home to half of the world’s population. And one in every eight nurses, practices in a country other than the one where they were born or trained. Ageing also threatens the nursing workforce: one out of six of the world’s nurses are expected to retire in the next 10 years.
To avert the global shortage, the report estimates that countries experiencing shortages need to increase the total number of nurse graduates by on average 8% per year, along with improved ability to be employed and retained in the health system. This would cost roughly USD 10 per capita (population) per year.