WHO Confirms 2020 as International Year of Nurse and Midwife

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.

Check out 2020 Year of the Nurse and the Midwife: Everything You Need to Know

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 Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during the opening of the 72nd World Health Assembly
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during the opening of the 72nd World Health Assembly. Image via: WHO.int

‘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
Annette Kennedy via Twitter

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.

Frieda Paton is a registered nurse with a Master’s degree in nursing education. Her passion for nursing education, nursing issues and advocacy for the profession were ignited while she worked as an education officer, and later editor, at a national nurses’ association. This passion, together with interest in health and wellness education since her student days, stayed with her throughout her further career as a nurse educator and occupational health nurse. Having reached retirement age, she continues to contribute to the profession as a full-time freelance writer. In the news and feature articles she writes for Nurseslabs, she hopes to inspire nursing students and nurses on the job to reflect on the trends and issues that affect their profession and communities - and play their part in advocacy wherever they find themselves.

5 thoughts on “WHO Confirms 2020 as International Year of Nurse and Midwife”

  1. Long overdue in my opinion. My husband is a retired paramedic/firefighter, ex military and usually gets discounts at theme parks, restaurants, hotels etc but none for nurses. The nurse who took care of the patient and family while juggling doctors, labs etc, the one who held the hand of the dying patient (whose family didn’t or couldn’t come) as they drew their last breath. The nurse who educated and comforted the patient and family after a devastating diagnosis; the one who also missed holidays, family get togethers and left a sick child to take care of someone else’s family or family member. No recognition, discounts and usually no thank you for us.

  2. It may be good if the nurses all over the world gets discouns and recognition for their selfless service to the humanity.

  3. Yes discounts would be very nice. Nurses have selfless love that pours of many. A constant paying forward.

  4. Hey there, I just want to tell you many thanks for the blog post. I’m not one to provide feedback that often but continue the wonderful work and thanks a lot for the top notch article.


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