WHO Director-General - Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus - “Nurses and midwives are the backbone of every health system: in 2020 we’re calling on all countries to invest in nurses and midwives as part of their commitment to health for all.”

At Vernacare we are celebrating the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, to recognise the vital role nurses and midwives play in society, and show our respect for the endless, often draining work they do at all times of the day and night.

Why is 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife?

2020 marks the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingales birth. To honour this, the World Health Organisation (WHO) have designated 2020 as the first ever ‘Year of the Nurse and Midwife’. This is a year to showcase and celebrate nurses and midwives, who are often undervalued and under invested in, despite the vital role they play in protecting global health1.  


What is the aim of the Year of the Nurse and Midwife?

In 2015 the Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by all United Nations Member States as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 20302.

The third sustainable development goal was to achieve “good health and well-being for all” to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being globally3. To meet this goal, the UN set targets that will trigger action, these include:


  • Reduce maternal mortality.
  • End all preventable deaths under 5 years of age.
  • Fight communicable diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
  • Achieve universal health coverage to ensure access to essential health-care services and medicines and vaccines for all.
  • Increase health financing and support health workforce in developing countries.3


Nurses and midwives play a crucial role in helping to achieve these targets, as they make up 50% of the workforce of healthcare employees globally. However underinvestment in the education and employment of these health workers has led to shortages all over the world. The WHO predict that by 2030 there will be shortages of nearly 9 million nurses and midwives; threatening our ability to achieve universal health coverage1.

The WHO’s overarching aim is for countries globally to recognise that government investment in nursing, whether that be increasing training opportunities and graduate slots or improving nursing conditions5, is the only way they can ensure everyone has access to the quality, affordable and essential healthcare services4.


What is being done to promote this amazing initiative?


  • The first key milestone this year will be the publication of the WHO’s ‘State of the World’s Nursing’ report4, which is scheduled to be published in April, with a similar report also due on midwifery. The report will highlight areas for policy development for the next 3 to 5 years and provide an analysis on workforce, education, provision and regulations of nursing by country, region and globally6.

    Ms Iro, WHO’s Chief Nurse said at a global level this would help leaders gain an understanding of common issues for nursing across the world and highlight what support countries may need7.

  • International Nurses day will be celebrated on 12th May, to mark the 200th birthday of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale. The WHO will host a celebration in Geneva to demonstrate how nurses are central to addressing a wide range of health challenges8.

    The event will encourage nurses and the public to celebrate, provide information and resources that will help to raise the profile of the profession and attract a new generation of nurses and midwives8.

  • The WHO will hold regional committees in September and October, with representatives of each Member State around the world. The outcomes of these meetings could lead to regional commitments to the health workforce and specifically nurses and midwives7.


  • Nightingale 2020 will be hosted by the Florence Nightingale Foundation on the 27th & 28th October. This will be a conference in London to showcase how nurses and midwives can work collectively to transform global health and care9.

What is Vernacare doing to support this campaign

Throughout 2020, Vernacare will be supporting the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, by raising money for the Florence Nightingale Foundation, who develop nurses and midwives to reach their full potential.

In an average 12 hour shift a nurse walks 10km - that is the equivalent of 8,000-10,000 steps. We are challenging employees at Vernacare to walk as far as possible over 6 weeks, to see if they can match the distance a nurse walks!

You can follow all our fundraising efforts in 2020 over on our LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook pages.


How can YOU get involved with the Year of the Nurse and Midwife?

If you would like to get involved and organise your own events, the WHO have prepared a toolkit to give ideas and help you organise activities.  Find out more on their website: https://www.who.int/campaigns/year-of-the-nurse-and-the-midwife-2020/get-involved



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