WHO names 2020 “Year of the Nurse and Midwife”


The World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the year 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, in honor of the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, known as the founder of modern nursing.

The proposal was first accepted by the Geneva Executive Board at its annual session in January 2019, following approval at the 72nd World Health Assembly in May 2019.

Nurses and midwives play a vital role in providing health services. They are often the first and only point of care in their communities and provide lifesaving immunizations, health advice, and meet essential health needs. According to the WHO, the world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives if it is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030, which is one of the agency’s top strategic priorities.

The year 2020 is significant for the WHO in the context of nursing and midwifery strengthening for universal health coverage, the agency said in a statement. The WHO is leading the development of the first-ever State of the World’s Nursing report, which will be launched in 2020, prior to the 73rd World Health Assembly in May. The report will describe the nursing workforce in WHO Member States, providing an assessment of “fitness for purpose” relative to sustainable development goal targets.

The WHO is also a partner on The State of the World’s Midwifery 2020 report, which will be launched around the same time. The Nursing Now Campaign, a three-year effort that started in 2018 to improve health globally by raising the status of nursing, will culminate in 2020 by supporting country-level dissemination and policy dialogue around the State of the World’s Nursing report.

The year-long global focus on nurses and midwives is a unique opportunity to get involved and demonstrate broad public and political support for more health workers, better supported to address the 18 million health worker shortage, according to the WHO. The organization put together a toolkit to help practitioners get involved. Click here for more information.

Editor's note: Photo courtesy of Freepik