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The WHO's Nursing Strategy

In 2021, the World Health Organization published the Global Strategic Directions for Nursing and Midwifery 2021 to 2025. It's a healthcare strategy that highlights four key areas: education, jobs, leadership, and service delivery, and in this guide, we'll take a closer look.

The WHO's Nurse Strategy

The WHO Global Strategic Directions for Nursing and Midwifery 2021–2025 highlights a series of practices and guidelines that countries should follow to help nurses and midwives provide optimal healthcare and move toward global health goals.

It highlights several policy priorities relating to nursing education and practice, including:

Education Policy Priorities

Proper education is key to growing, improving, and maintaining health services around the world.

  • Align education levels with fully optimized roles within academic and health care systems.
  • Make sure that all education programs are competency-based and align with the continued health needs of the global population.
  • Ensure that education production can meet an ever-increasing demand.

Jobs Policy Priorities

Nurses are in high demand and the WHO's strategy involves policies aimed at continuing that growth and ensuring skilled nurses and midwives will remain in demand.

  • Ensure there is adequate demand within the health system.
  • Implement the WHO Global Code of Practice (a code that governs staff recruitment and management).
  • Find work for nurses and midwives where they are needed the most.
  • Conduct planning and forecasting through a health labor lens.

Leadership Policy Priorities

Health and care workers should be encouraged to work in more advanced roles, becoming leaders for future generations.

  • Improve nursing leadership opportunities and create senior positions for skilled health workers.
  • Invest in development programs aimed at improving leadership skills.

Service Delivery Policy Priorities

To deliver the best services, healthcare systems must be improved and modernized and the nursing workforce should be equipped to deal with these changing working conditions.

  • Provide support for modernization.
  • Adapt policies aimed at maximizing service delivery.

What is Nursing According to the World Health Organization?

The WHO describes nursing as something that "encompasses autonomous and collaborative care of individuals of all ages, families, groups and communities, sick or well and in all settings."

It echoes many of the principles in the ANA Code of Ethics, which itself is based on the Nightingale Pledge. In fact, the principles and ethics of nursing go even further back than that, as the Nightingale Pledge was based on the Hippocratic Oath, which is nearly 2,500 years old, and that may have been based on 3,500-year-old oaths from Mesopotamia.

The WHO states that nurses are often the first to detect and deal with health emergencies and they work on the front lines. This is something that we witnessed during the recent COVID-19 pandemic when nurses put themselves in harm's way to stop the spread of contagion and treat the sick, vulnerable, and dying.

In fact, if not for the hard work of nurses around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic would have been even more catastrophic, and that's saying something for a disease that had killed over 5 million people by 2022.

What Impact Does the World Health Organization Have on Nursing Practice?

The WHO plays an important role in advocating for nurses and midwives all over the world. It is a source of education and research for healthcare organizations and providers, and it works with global health services to ensure that standards are set and followed.

By strengthening nursing and advancing nursing education, the WHO ensures that the world is better equipped to deal with catastrophic global health developments, such as the recent pandemic.

Why Do Nurses Hold the Key to Global Health Security?

The WHO believes that nurses are key to global health security due to the important role they play in disease prevention, health promotion, and community care.

Key to the WHO's nursing strategy is the hiring of nurses and midwives, as well as the advancement of health services and nursing education.

find nursing schools near you

find nursing schools near you