The first ever international year of the nurse and midwife will be held in 2020, it has been confirmed, providing a “once in a generation opportunity” to showcase the professions.
Nations of the world will unite in celebration of the benefits that nursing and midwifery staff bring to the health of the global population and work to address staff shortages.
The dedication of next year to the cause was approved by leaders at the World health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland on Friday.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said WHO was “proud” to nominate 2020 as the year of the nurse and midwife.
“These two health professions are invaluable to the health of people everywhere,” he said. “Without nurses and midwives, we will not achieve the sustainable development goals or universal health coverage.
“While WHO recognises 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,” he noted
The campaign will support the work the International Council of Nurses (ICN) is carrying out in partnership with WHO through their Nursing Now movement to raise the status and profile and nurses worldwide.
Annette Kennedy, president of the ICN, said: “The 20 million nurses around the world will be thrilled to see their profession recognised in this way.
“I would like to congratulate WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for his farsightedness and wisdom in seeing the benefit of highlighting the contribution of nurses to healthcare, and the WHA members for making his vision become a reality.”
She said the designation of 2020 was especially welcome as it coincided with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, one of the founders of modern nursing.
“Florence Nightingale used her lamp to illuminate the places where nurses worked, and 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,” Ms Kennedy added.
Lord Nigel Crisp, co-chair of the Nursing Now campaign, said: “The WHO has provided a unique opportunity both for countries to demonstrate how much they appreciate their nurses and midwives and to showcase what more nurses and midwives can achieve if given the support to do so.
“Investing in nursing and midwifery will make an enormous contribution to the rapid, cost-effective and high quality scaling up of universal health care,” he added.
“This is a once in a generation opportunity for governments to really show nurses and midwives how much they are valued, not by empty words, but by effective, decisive action to give us the human and physical resources needed to get the job done,” Lord Crisp said.
In addition, Nursing Now has launched the Nightingale Challenge 2020, which calls for every employer of nurses globally to provide leadership and development training for 20 young nurses and midwives next year. The hope is for 20,000 staff to benefit from this next year.