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Nurses and midwives account for the largest proportion of the health workforce–50% of the total, but a further 9 million are needed globally to achieve the goal of universal health by 2030.

Washington D.C., 3 January 2020 (PAHO/WHO)–In order to recognize the work of nurses and midwives around the world and advocate for increased investment in this workforce, and improvements in working conditions, education and professional development, this year has been designated the international year of nurses and midwives by the World Health Assembly.

midwives nurses

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives to achieve the goal of universal health coverage by 2030. In the Americas, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) highlights that 800,000 more health workers are needed, including nurses and midwives. 

These professionals play a vital role in providing essential health services at all levels of care and are crucial to promoting health and preventing disease. They care for mothers, children and the elderly, administer life-saving vaccines, and provide health advice, among other actions.

“In many parts of the world, nursing and midwifery professionals constitute the first and sometimes only human resource that is in contact with patients,” said Carissa Etienne, WHO Regional Director for the Americas and PAHO Director. “Investing in nursing and midwifery means advancing towards health for all, which will have a profound effect on global health and well-being,” she added.

The initiative, which will last all year, brings together WHO, PAHO and its partners, including the International Confederation of Midwives, International Council of Nurses, Nursing Now and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

To find out more, visit