Year of the Nurse & Midwife

February 1st, 2020

Nurses and midwives account for nearly 50% of the global health work force. Despite that, there is still a global shortage of health workers, particularly nurses and midwives. Nurses play a crucial role in health promotion, disease prevention and delivering primary and community care. That is why the World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife.

Often, these workers are the first or indeed only point of care in their communities. They devote their lives to caring for mothers and children, giving life-saving health advice and administering immunisations, taking care of older people and others in the community.

It is the WHO’s objective to achieve universal health coverage by 2030 and if that is to be achieved, the world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives. That’s why WHO have created a year-long focus to celebrate the work of these people, highlight the challenges they face with their work, and raise awareness in order to improve investments in the workforce.

Did you know?

  • The world needs 18 million more health workers to achieve universal health coverage by 2030
  • 9 million of that shortfall are nurses and midwives
  • 70% of the health workforce are women, compared to 41% in all employment sectors and this is true for nurses and midwives too
  • The largest shortages of nurses and midwives are in South East Asia and Africa


There are lots of ways to get involved in the year-long celebration. Follow the conversations on social media using the hashtag #YearoftheNurseandMidwife. Share your story with colleagues and on social media. In May, #wearblueweek is a week to wear blue and show your support of the cause. Visit the NHS England page to find out other ways to help.