Governments from around the world endorsed 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife during the World Health Assembly. The global celebration is in recognition of the indispensable role of nurses and midwives in bringing health care to people everywhere.
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Spotlight on the role of nurses and midwives
In January this year, the Executive Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) proposed that 2020 be designated as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife because of the vital contribution of nurses and midwives towards achieving universal health coverage. 2020 is also the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale.
Member states endorsed the proposal during the 72nd World Health Assembly on May 24. This is the world’s most crucial decision making a body for health policy.
‘WHO is proud to nominate 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. These two health professions are invaluable to the health of people everywhere.” said Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO. ‘While WHO recognizes their crucial role on a daily basis, 2020 will be dedicated to highlighting the enormous sacrifices and contributions of nurses and midwives, and to ensuring that we address the shortage of these vital professions.”
Nursing Organization’s reaction
The idea of 2020 as Year of the Nurse and Midwife was initially suggested by the global, three-year Nursing Now campaign, which runs until 2020 in collaboration with the ICN and WHO. Lord Nigel Crisp, Co-Chair of the campaign, emphasized that rapid and cost-effective improvement in universal health care could be achieved by investing in nursing and midwifery.
“This is a once in a generation opportunity for governments to really show nurses and midwives how much they are valued,” commented Crisp. “Not by empty words, but by effective, decisive action to give us the human and physical resources needed to get the job done.”
Annette Kennedy, President of the International Council of Nurses, commended Ghebreyesus for supporting the idea of highlighting nurses’ contribution to healthcare and thanked the members of the WHA for endorsing this vision.
“Florence Nightingale used her lamp to illuminate the places where nurses worked,” said Kennedy. “I hope the designation of 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife will provide us with a new, 20-20 vision of what nursing is in the modern era, and how nurses can light the way to universal health coverage and healthcare for all.”
Every nurse can play their part
Within their individual circle of influence every nurse, across the world, can help to place the spotlight on their profession.
We will need to seize the opportunity of the Year of the Nurse and Midwife to communicate to decision-makers and the public alike who exactly we are and the vital contribution we make to society in the modern world.