Investing in health workers yields ‘triple dividend’, WHO chief says in New Year’s message

World Bank/Salahaldeen Nadir Nurse training in Hamashkoreeb, Sudan. (file)

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


At the start of the new year and new decade, the head of the United Nations health agency thanked “the brave health workers” around the globe and asked that the world do better in supporting them.

“They are doing life-saving work every day, including during holidays when the rest of us are with our loved ones at home”, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), in his video message for the new year.

“But the world needs to do a better job in supporting our health workers, paying them, training them and protecting them”.

WHO estimates that the world will need another 18 million health workers, mostly in low- and middle-income countries.

He recalled that 2020 is the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, which celebrates the professionals who provide a wide range of health services “from the first moments of life to the last”.

There are 22 million nurses and two million midwives worldwide, who prevent, diagnose and treat diseases, provide expert care during childbirth and also serve people caught in humanitarian emergencies and conflicts, according to WHO.

“During this year, WHO and our partners will ask countries to improve the education and employment of nurses and midwives”, said the WHO chief.

He also observed that 70 per cent of the global health workforce is female, pointing out that “jobs for health workers are often jobs for women”.

“Investing in health workers pays a triple dividend for health, economic growth and gender equality”, spelled out the WHO Director-General.

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