Int’l nurses Week: WHO raises alarm over shortage of nurses

Gloria Essien, Abuja

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The World Health Organization, WHO, has raised alarm over the shortage of nurses in Africa.

READ ALSO: 9m nurses, midwives needed globally to achieve SDGs- WHO

WHO’s Regional Director, Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti raised the alarm in her message on International Nurses’ Day 2022 with the theme, Nurses: A Voice to Lead–Invest in Nursing and Respect Rights to Secure Global Health.

According to the Regional Director, the World is in need of nine million nurses to address the shortage.

The world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives to realize the health-related global Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. WHO in Africa’s analysis has identified a threshold of about 60 nurses and midwives per 10 000 people as a critical point for attaining at least 70% of the Universal Health service coverage index. Currently, most countries have fewer than 20, with the number dropping way below even that for many across the continent.
Nurses have a critical role to play in Primary Health Care delivery, often being the first – and only – health professional a patient will see. They contribute to research, disease prevention, treating the injured, administering palliative care, and more. They are the true unsung heroes on the front lines of disease prevention and care“. Dr Moetti said.

She explained that if the shortage is left unaddressed, it will pose as a threat to the progress toward Universal Health Coverage, UHC.

Dr Moeti Stressed that Nigeria has the highest share of the headcount of nurses at 21%, followed by South Africa with about 18%.

The WHO African Region has long grappled with a severe shortage of nurses which, if left unaddressed, poses a significant threat to our progress towards Universal Health Coverage. According to the latest estimates, there are 1.6 million nurses and midwives across our 47 Member States”. She said.

She explained that WHO has identified a threshold of about 60 nurses and midwives per 10,000 people as a critical point for attaining about 70% of the Universal Health service coverage index.
Dr Moeti, therefore, called for increased investment in nurses and midwives which she described as a good value for money.

The case for investing in nursing education, jobs and leadership is clear, and it’s time to commit to action” She noted.

She said WHO in Africa is supporting Member States to strengthen nursing and midwifery through the implementation of the Global Strategic Directions for Nursing and Midwifery, SDNM, 2021-2025, and an interrelated set of policy priorities to guide the contributions of nurses and midwives to achieve Universal Health Coverage and other population health goals.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa appreciated and celebrated all nurses in the African Region, and thanked them for their unwavering dedication in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

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