A doctor (L), nurse (C), and paramedic rescuer (R) of SAMU Tunisia (Urgent Medical Aid Service), dressed in personal protective equipment (PPE) head out to visit a COVID-19 coronavirus patient in the capital Tunis on April 6, 2020.
AFP/Fethi Belaid
World short of six million nurses, WHO says
(Agence France-Presse) - April 7, 2020 - 8:16am

GENEVA, Switzerland — As COVID-19 captures global headlines, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned Tuesday that the world needs nearly six million nurses.

The UN's health agency along with partners Nursing Now and the International Council of Nurses (ICN) underscored in a report the crucial role played by nurses, who make up more than half of all health workers worldwide.

"Nurses are the backbone of any health system," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

"Today, many nurses find themselves on the frontline in the battle against COVID-19," he noted, adding that it was vital they "get the support they need to keep the world healthy." 

The report said that there are just under 28 million nurses on the planet.

In the five years leading up to 2018, the number grew by 4.7 million.

"But this still leaves a global shortfall of 5.9 million," the WHO said, pointing out that the greatest gaps were in poorer countries in Africa, southeast Asia, the Middle East and parts of South America.

The report urged countries to identify gaps in their nursing workforce and invest in nursing education, jobs and leadership.

Shortages 'exhaust workforce'

ICN chief executive Howard Catton told a virtual briefing that infection rates, medication errors and mortality rates "are all higher where there are too few nurses".

Furthermore, "shortages exhaust our current nursing workforce", he added.

In fighting the pandemic, Mary Watkins, who co-chaired the report for Nursing Now, called for urgent investment in virus tests for healthcare workers.

"We have a very high proportion of healthcare workers not going to work because they're afraid that they've been infected and that they can't prove that they have not got the infection -- or that they've had it, and they're over it," she said.

Catton said that 23 nurses had died in Italy and cited figures suggesting that around 100 health workers had died around the world.

Meanwhile he said there were reports of nine percent of health workers being infected in Italy and "we're now hearing of rates of infections up to 14 percent in Spain".

He also cited reports of "completely unacceptable and reprehensible" attacks on health workers battling COVID-19, largely due to ignorance about their work, combined with countries not doing enough to protect them.

"COVID is putting it into a very stark lens for us all," he said, though he welcomed the growing appreciation in some countries of nurse's work.

Catton said that could help change perceptions of the value of nursing — which in turn might help make it a more attractive profession.

Male recruitment

Beyond COVID-19, Watkins said many wealthier countries were not producing enough nurses to meet their own healthcare needs, and were therefore reliant on migration, exacerbating shortages in poorer countries.

"Eighty percent of the world's nurses only currently serve 50 percent of the world's population," she noted.

Catton warned of risks that richer countries would rely on the Philippines and India to "supply the world with nurses", which could lead to significant shortages in India.

The experts said nursing remains female-dominated and needed to recruit more men.

"There is clear evidence that where there are more men in any profession in the world, the pay and the terms and conditions improve," Watkins said.

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: June 3, 2020 - 4:47pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

June 3, 2020 - 4:47pm

The Department of Health reports 751 new cases of the coronavirus disease, which brings the national tally to 19,748.

There are 90 new recoveries and eight new deaths.

June 3, 2020 - 7:43am

Brazil surpasses 30,000 deaths from the coronavirus outbreak on Tuesday as the disease continued to rip through South America's worst-hit country.

Figures released by the health ministry shows 1,262 deaths in the previous 24-hours, as well as 28,936 new infections. 

The overall number of cases — 555,383 — makes Brazil the second most affected country by the crisis after the United States in terms of infections. — AFP

June 3, 2020 - 7:19am

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 377,213 people since the outbreak first emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1900 GMT on Tuesday. 

At least 6,320,480 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 2,662,300 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. — AFP

June 2, 2020 - 4:47pm

The Department of Health reports 359 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the national tally to 18,997.

There are 84 new recoveries and six new deaths.

June 2, 2020 - 10:27am

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 373,439 people since the outbreak first emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1900 GMT on Monday. 

At least 6,220,110 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 2,599,500 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. — AFP

Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with