BY CHIOMA UMEHA
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, has stated that the WHO African Region has long faced a chronic shortage of nurses, which, if not resolved, poses a substantial danger to our journey toward Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Based on the most recent recent figures, our 47 Member States have 1.6 million nurses and midwives. Algeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa account for 66% of all nurses worldwide.
This indication was provided in her statement to honor International Nurses' Day 2022, with the theme Nurses: A Voice to Lead - Invest in Nursing and Respect Rights to Secure Global Health, which could not be more fitting. To achieve the health-related global Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, the world needs 9 million extra nurses and midwives.
"According to WHO's analysis in Africa, a crucial threshold of roughly 60 nurses and midwives per 10,000 people is required to achieve at least 70% of the Universal Health Service coverage index. Most countries now have less than 20, with many countries on the continent having even fewer than that.
"Nurses play an important role in Primary Health Care, as they are sometimes the first and sometimes the only health professional a patient encounters. They help with research, disease prevention, injury treatment, and palliative care, among other things. On the front lines of disease prevention and treatment, they are true unsung heroes." It is widely believed that investing in nurses and midwives is a worthwhile investment. Investments in education and job development in the health and social sectors, according to the UN High Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth, yield a tripled yield in form of improved health outcomes, global health security, and inclusive economic growth.
"Throughout the pandemic, nurses have made significant sacrifices, performed bravely, and recommitted everyday to addressing a global health hazard unprecedented in modern times, serving as a vital pillar supporting African health care systems through some very difficult times."
"As WHO in Africa, we are 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 interconnected set of policy priorities to direct the contributions of nurses and midwives to achieve Universal Health Coverage and other population health goals", Moeti added. "As part of our ongoing efforts to give nurses a voice, WHO launched the Nursing and Midwifery Global Community of Practice virtual network, a venue for nurses and midwives from around the world to join forces with one another, WHO, and other key stakeholders".
"Today is International Nurses' Day, and I'd like to use this occasion to urge African countries to make the required investments to assist boost the appeal of the nursing profession. This will necessitate sufficient equipment, improved working conditions, appropriate education, opportunities for upskilling, and job development. Nursing leadership must also be improved, with chief nursing and midwifery officers charged with advancing the nursing agenda in education, employment, policy, and practice".
"Nurses may provide about 80% of primary health care, and the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly acted as an important platform to emphasize how vital nurses are in maintaining normal health care while simultaneously responding to a global disaster.
The need for investing in nurse education, employment, and leadership is strong, and now is the moment to take action ", she continued.
She commended and hailed the nurses in the African Region, thanking them for their continuous commitment to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.