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World short of six million nurses, WHO says
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
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It is due to end on March 7, but the government will lift the measure this Sunday, just over a week early, in around six prefectures, the reports say. — AFP

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February 21, 2021 - 5:39pm

The head of the World Health Organization on Sunday appeals to Tanzania to take "robust action" to combat COVID-19 in the country, where the president has long played down the virus.

President John Magufuli has claimed coronavirus has been has fended off by prayer in Tanzania, and refused to take measures to curb its spread. 

But a recent spate of deaths attributed to pneumonia has struck both members of the public and government officials.

And Magufuli on Friday appeared to admit the coronavirus was circulating in his country after months of denial.

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a number of Tanzanians traveling to neighboring countries and beyond have tested positive for the coronavirus.

"This underscores the need for Tanzania to take robust action both to safeguard their own people and protect populations in these countries and beyond," he said in a statement.

Tedros said he had urged Tanzania in late January to take measures against the pandemic and to prepare for vaccinations.

"Since then I have spoken with several authorities in Tanzania but WHO is yet to receive any information regarding what measures Tanzania is taking to respond to the pandemic. — AFP

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