Critical role of Nurses today — Some Facts and Figures


A recent World Health Organisation (WHO) Report says the following:

“Nurses and midwives account for nearly 50% of the health workforce. Of the 43.5 million health workers in the world, it is estimated that 20.7 million are nurses and midwifes, yet 50% of WHO Member States report to have less than 3 nursing and midwifery personnel per 1000 population (about 25% report to have less than 1 per 1000), according to the 2017 Global Health Observatory.”

That figure has been echoed by the International Council of Nurses (ICN), a federation of more than 130 national nurses’ associations, representing more than 20 million nurses worldwide.


The safety of nurses should be the primary objective of any health system in any part of the world. Nurses virtually prop up any health facility. Yet, as per the ICN report, “governments are failing to prioritize nurses as number of confirmed COVID-19 nurse deaths passes 1000.” That report is of September 16, 2020. The WHO’s World Patient Safety Day was observed the day after the report. However, because of the pandemic, news about this was hardly available. In fact, this year, World Patient Safety Day focused on “health workforce safety.”

The ICN report from a survey of a number of ICN’s National Nurses Associations shows what ICB calls a “catastrophic increase in the number of deaths and infection rates of nurses due to COVID-19.”

The report which includes a survey of a number of ICN’s National Nurses Associations, reveals the “continuing and catastrophic increase in the number of deaths and infection rates of nurses due to COVID-19.”

The ICN calls on “governments to address their collective failure to prioritize health workers across the board, including lack of data collection on infection rates and inadequate PPE, particularly in care homes, as well as inadequate testing and IPC training, plus extensive reports of violence and discrimination against nurses, and a lack of mental health support.”


The report finds that more than 1,000 nurses have died in 44 countries where data was available. The reports states that health worker infection rates on average around 10% of total infections globally. “This suggests that with almost 30 million people infected with the virus, as many as three million may be health workers.”

Everything the report says indicates the incredible importance of the nursing community within the healthcare systems around the world.

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