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World Health Organisation (WHO)

WHO Projects 5.1m Nurses, Midwives Shortfall Worldwide by 2030

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says while there are currently an estimated 29 million nurses and 2.2 million midwives worldwide, a projected shortfall of 4.8 million nurses and 0.31 million midwives is expected by 2030.

The WHO in a statement to commemorate the 2024 International Nurses Day, lamented that the world currently faces a significant shortage of nurses and midwives and this gap is reported to be most severe in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean region, and parts of Latin America.

The 2024 International Nurses Day is themed, ‘Our Nurses. Our Future. The economic power of care’.

WHO in the statement described nurses and midwives as the backbone of healthcare systems, providing essential care, shaping health policies, and driving primary care initiatives.

While stressing that nurses and midwives are crucial for emergency response and the overall sustainability of healthcare, the global health organisation noted that women make up a significant portion of the healthcare workforce, with 67 per cent in the health and social sector compared to 41 per cent across all employment sectors.

According to WHO, in many countries, nurses make up half of all healthcare professionals and have a vital role in how health actions are organised and applied.

WHO stated, “Nursing and midwifery are particularly female-dominated professions. Over 80 per cent of the world’s nurses work in countries with only half the global population. Additionally, a significant number of nurses (one in eight) practices in a different country than where they were born or trained.

“A higher number of female nurses correlate with positive health outcomes. Studies show a positive association with health service coverage, and life expectancy, and a negative correlation with infant mortality.

“Investing in nurses and midwives is essential for building efficient, effective, and sustainable healthcare systems worldwide. By addressing the global nursing shortage, the world can ensure everyone has access to quality healthcare.

“Investing in Nurses for a Healthier Future: The positive correlation between the number of female nurses and health outcomes underscores the importance of supporting this workforce.

“Studies show a link between higher levels of female nurses and improved health service coverage, life expectancy, and lower infant mortality rates.”