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The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and the Midwife” in a campaign intended to place visible and authoritative attention on the essential role of nurses in healthcare, helping to raise the status of nurses worldwide. The year 2020 also marks the 200th anniversary of the birthday of one of the world’s most iconic nurses, Florence Nightingale.

According to the WHO campaign website: “Nurses and midwives play a vital role in providing health services. These are the people who devote their lives to caring for mothers and children; giving lifesaving immunizations and health advice; looking after older people and generally meeting everyday essential health needs. They are often, the first and only point of care in their communities. The world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives if it is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030. That’s why the World Health Assembly has designated 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

Nurses make up the largest workforce in the health sector, and this designation of the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife marks an exciting prospect for the future of health research and policy making. Nursing has consistently been rated the most trusted profession in the United States, but that is not the case around the world, and staffing shortages do not only affect the US and developed countries.

WHO has also partnered with organizations including the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), International Council of Nurses (ICN), Nursing Now, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in a year-long effort to celebrate the work of nurses and midwives, highlight the challenging conditions they often face, and advocate for increased investments in the nursing and midwifery workforce.

Several nursing organizations have distributed press releases to emphasize their reasons for taking part in the campaign. The American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) wants to raise awareness of the growing maternal health crisis in the US. Maternal mortality rates are continuing to rise in the US while decreasing globally, and they know that a better integration of midwives and the midwifery model of care into health systems is fundamental to reducing provider shortages, improving maternal health outcomes, and addressing racial and ethnic inequality.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) has created the ANA Enterprise, a family of organizations composed of ANA, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), and the American Nurses Foundation. ANA Enterprise will celebrate the Year of the Nurse by engaging with nurses, thought leaders, and consumers in a way that promotes nursing excellence, infuses leadership, and fosters innovation. And during 2020, ANA Enterprise will expand National Nurses Week, traditionally celebrated from May 6 to May 12 each year, to a month-long celebration in May to expand opportunities to elevate and celebrate nursing.   

To learn more about the 2020 Year of the Nurse and the Midwife campaign and find ways to get involved, visit here.

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