WHO: There is a global shortage of nearly 6 million nurses

The World Health Organization published a report on April 6 detailing the state of the world’s nursing. It spoke of the important role nurses play, making 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.

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While the report acknowledges that “the nursing workforce is expanding in size and professional scope, the expansion is not equitable, is insufficient to meet rising demand, and is leaving some populations behind.”

It underscores that the world does not have a global nursing workforce that is able to meet the needs of universal health coverage. The global shortage of nurses is estimated to be at 5.9 million in 2018, with 5.3 million or 89% of that figure concentrated in low- and lower-middle-income countries.

This means that over 80% of the world’s nurses are found in countries that account for only half of the world’s population. Countries in the African, South-East Asia, Eastern Mediterranean, and Latin America regions suffer the greatest gaps in density of nursing personnel to population.

In order to address this, countries around the globe are compelled to increase their investment in nursing education, jobs, and leadership.

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