ICN Says “Labour Shortage Is the Biggest Threat to Global Health” | ICN

On International Nurses Day, ICN calls for investment in nursing care and the protection and safety of nurses

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) today presents materials for International Nurses Day, on the theme The nursing profession, a voice to lead: Investing in nursing and respecting rights to ensure global health. This publication aims to help nurses and health care providers in general, as well as governments and international organizations, to translate global strategies into concrete actions at the local level as well as to improve clinical practice in the field. .

Ms. Pamela Cipriano, President of the ICN, notes that “nurses have given their all in the fight against COVID-19 and against Ebola, in disaster areas and in war zones. And yet, they still face understaffing and protection, heavy workloads and low wages. The time has come to take concrete action to ensure workplace safety, protect nurses and safeguard their physical and mental health.

Women make up 70% of the global health workforce but hold only 25% of leadership positions. They are the ones who hold the undervalued and lowest paid jobs, while taking on unpaid care and domestic work. However, it is possible to empower women and promote gender equality by investing in nursing.

Several reports published recently show that it is necessary to invest now in nursing care in order to be able to hope to meet the health challenges of tomorrow. We need to stop undervaluing nursing and underinvesting in the profession. It’s time to act.

For this, we can base ourselves on the recommendations of the WHO, which have been approved by the Member States. We know what to do. We need to stop talking and take action to support our nurses – and that’s exactly what ICN’s materials for International Nurses Day offer. »

Mr. Howard Catton, Director General of ICN, adds that “the value of nurses to our health systems, as well as to global peace and security, has never been clearer. Likewise, it is more than clear that nurses and other healthcare workers are not being sufficiently protected, as shown by the tragedy of the death of more than 180,000 workers due to COVID-19. We should not hesitate to say that it is a problem of political will, insofar as the solutions which would make it possible to remedy this deplorable situation exist, but are not applied.

The scale of the global nursing shortage is one of the greatest threats to global health. But governments are not giving it the attention it deserves. Access to health care is essential to the safety, security, economic success and fairness of societies. However, this goal will only be achieved if we have enough nurses to provide the necessary care.

Governments should therefore urgently prioritize investments in nursing and the health workforce, given their importance for the future of all societies. »

The report published by ICN on the occasion of International Nurses Day in 2022 is a “toolkit” aligned with several very important documents, including the WHO Global Strategic Directions for Nursing and Midwifery 2021-2025 ; WHO report on The situation of nurses around the world ; and the International Center on Nurse Migration study titled “ Sustaining and retaining the workforce in 2022 and beyond “. The ICN report supports, in particular, the implementation of WHO’s Strategic Directions: it provides the practical guidance that stakeholders need to achieve their goals. It also presents case studies representing as many measures applied in practice. This is why the ICN report constitutes a “toolbox” offering multi-sector advice to stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds.

The toolkit addresses the four priority areas of WHO’s Strategic Directions: training, jobs, leadership and service delivery. The benefits of investing in each of these areas are reviewed; evidence of underinvestment; the expected results of a significant investment; as well as the measures to be taken to implement and follow up on these priorities.

The report also addresses two critical strategic priorities that have come to the fore over the past two years: investing in health care worker safety as a priority, and ensuring the health and well-being of nurses.

The report presented by the ICN discusses the additional burden that the pandemic places on health systems and nurses. It highlights the risks and lack of protection the profession suffers from, while providing evidence of the underinvestment in nursing globally. ICN refers to this combination of factors as the “COVID effect” that results in an increased burden on nurses.

  • Healthcare workers represent less than 3% of the global population, but around 14% of COVID-19 cases – a proportion that reaches 35% in some countries.
  • In Japan, 20% of nurses say they have experienced discrimination and prejudice amid the spread of the virus. In the United States, 64% of nurses feel overwhelmed and 67% report sleep disturbances.
  • Health workers, and particularly nurses, are also more likely to be exposed to offensive behaviour, including sexual harassment, than other professions. In the United States, rates of client violence against healthcare workers are estimated to be 16 times higher than in any other service sector profession.
  • During the 2014-2016 Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa, the risk of infection among healthcare workers was 21 to 32 times higher than in the general adult population.
  • Virtually all WHO Member States are experiencing pandemic-related health service disruptions; two-thirds (66%) say health workforce factors are the most common causes of these disruptions.
  • Due to nursing shortages, an aging nursing workforce and the ever-increasing “COVID-19 effect”, ICN estimates that up to 13 million nurses will be needed to fill global shortages in the future .

ICN offers other resources – such as logo, posters, social media banners, virtual background, Facebook frame and other digital tools – to promote #IND2022 on social media. This documentation can be downloaded from the CII website. The latter also published a digital map where, in videos, Board members interactively present regional priorities and show how the toolkit can strengthen nursing and national nursing associations in all country.

International Nurses Day is celebrated annually on May 12, the date of Florence Nightingale’s birth. ICN commemorates this important day each year by producing and distributing thematic materials along with a set of evidence. For the report, other resources, and information on past International Nurses Days, see: https://www.icnvoicetolead.com/.

Download the press release here

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  2. World Health Organization (2020). Keep health workers safe to keep patients safe. Press release, September 17, 2020. 5
  3. The Mainichi (2021). Japan Nurses Faced Discrimination, Quit Jobs Amid COVID-19 ‘First Wave’: Survey. The Mainichi.
  4. American Nurses Foundation (2020). Pulse on the Nation’s Nurses COVID-19 Survey Series: Mental Health and Wellness Survey #2.
  5. Franklin, P. (2020). “Violence and harassment in the year of the nurse,” HesaMag # 22 – 2nd semester 2020. European Trade Union Institute.
  6. World Health Organization (2015). Health worker Ebola infections in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone: a preliminary report.
  7. World Health Organization (2021). Second round of the national pulse survey on continuity of essential health services during the COVID-19 pandemic: January-March 2021.
  8. International Council of Nurses (2021). The global nursing shortage and retention of nurses.

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