Let’s make 2020 our chance to push for more nurse funding

Year of the Nurse and Midwife presents an opportunity to advance the profession 

Year of the Nurse and Midwife presents an opportunity to advance the profession 

Picture: Barney Newman

2020 should be a monumental year for nurses around the globe.

After strong lobbying by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and the Nursing Now campaign, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, heralding an unprecedented celebration of our profession.

WHO recognises that nursing is at the heart of healthcare, and that nurses are vital to its aim to achieve universal health coverage, healthcare for all and sustainable development goals.

The Year of the Nurse is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us all to raise the profile of nursing in the eyes of the public, educate them about what nurses can do, and attract a new generation into the profession.

WHO nursing report will influence policy and debate for years to come

In April 2020, WHO will publish the first State of the World’s Nursing report. The report, which I co-chaired with Baroness Mary Watkins, alternate chair of Nursing Now, will describe the global nursing workforce in detail and generate high-level political and policy debate. The aim is to increase investment in the profession and address gender equity agendas for generations to come.

‘We are a strong global profession and there is more that brings us together than separates us’

The data in the report will be used for lobbying and campaigning over the coming years, and will provide a benchmark to help nurses around the globe hold politicians and policymakers to account.

International Nurses Day: nursing the world to health

The theme of ICN’s International Nurses Day celebrations on 12 May 2020 will be 'nursing the world to health'. The date is special because it coincides with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale.

As an early epidemiologist, I am sure Miss Nightingale would have approved of the data-driven approach of the State of the World’s Nursing report, and encouraged nurses to use its data to good effect.

Also in May, ICN will be co-hosting nursing and midwifery meetings with WHO, as well as sending a delegation of nurses to the World Health Assembly in Geneva to ensure nursing expertise is at the top table where global health policy is made.

A chance to shed outdated stereotypes about nursing

We can use the spotlight that will be on nursing throughout the year to showcase what modern day nursing is about, as well as busting any old-fashioned notions and stereotypes that linger in the media and in the public’s perception of nurses.

We are a strong global profession and there is more that brings us together than separates us. And we will be even stronger if we can demonstrate our shared vision and solidarity with colleagues from all nations of the world.

Take this chance to celebrate with your colleagues and in your communities – you will not be alone, as nurses around the globe will be doing the same thing.

Lobbying for a step-change in investment in nursing 

And as we celebrate, we must make sure that 2020 is a catalyst for what comes next, so that we will be able to look back and clearly identify what has changed for the better.

Today’s nurses, me included, have a responsibility to build a platform this year to advance the profession for generations to come.

I want to see a step-change in investment in nursing that will be reflected in the number of new nurses trained, the education, development and support of existing registered nurses, the expansion of high-quality leadership programmes and advanced practice roles, and improvements in pay and conditions.

More nurses, who are better educated, better supported and better paid for the irreplaceable contribution they make to societies around the world – what a legacy that would be.  

This year is going to be a good one for nursing, and I hope it’s a good one for you, too.

Howard Catton is chief executive of the International Council of NursesHoward Catton is chief executive of the International Council of Nurses


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