Celebrating Nursing and the first ever State of World Nursing report | Fieldfisher
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Celebrating Nursing and the first ever State of World Nursing report

Hannah Unger



International Nurses Day

12 May 2020 was a historic day. It was International Nurses Day, it was the 200th year anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth and it also fell during the “International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife”, as designated by the World Health Organisation.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the vital role nurses play in our society. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), nurses make up over half of all the healthcare workers in the world, providing vital services throughout our healthcare system. Around the world nurses are demonstrating compassion, bravery and courage as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and never before has their value been more clearly demonstrated.

State of World Nursing report

In April 2020, WHO launched the first ever State of the Worlds’ Nursing Report (the "Report"). By way of summary:

  • The Report provides a snapshot of the global nursing workforce as well as highlights the scale of the challenges we currently face.
  • The Report found that there are just under 28 million nurses worldwide. Between 2013 and 2018, nursing numbers increased by 4.7 million. But this still leaves a global shortfall of 5.9 million - with the greatest gaps found in countries in Africa, South East Asia and the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region as well as some parts of Latin America.
  • The Report describes how the nursing workforce can help deliver Universal Health Coverage and meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • The Report also outlines a commitment to an agenda that will drive and sustain progress to 2020, in particular in the areas of education, jobs and leadership.

Citing the Report, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General commented as follows:
“Nurses are the backbone of any health system. Today, many nurses find themselves on the frontline in the battle against Covid-19.  This report is a stark reminder of the unique role they play, and a wakeup call to ensure they get the support they need to keep the world healthy.”

The full text of the Report can be accessed here

Regulation in Ireland:

While Ireland is not specifically mentioned in the Report, the WHO's website provides individual country profiles presenting key statistics on nursing workforce. Ireland's profile can be accessed here.
Written by Eimear Burke, Hannah Unger and Ellie Kavangh

Areas of Expertise

Public and Regulatory