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Nursing Outlook. (2012). Jan.60(1), 51-53

Leadership needed to address the global nursing and midwifery workforce shortage 

Wilson, L, Fowler, M.


The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing, Birmingham, AL.


An estimated 4.2 million health care workers are needed to address the global shortage of human resources for health (HRH) to achieve global health and development goals. Internationally, nurses and midwives comprise the majority of the global health care workforce,and the World Health Assembly has passed several resolutions over the past 20 years recognizing the importance of strengthening the nursing and midwifery (N&M) workforce. For example, in 2001, Resolution WHA54.12 recommended establishing mechanisms to address the global shortage of nurses and midwives, and to strengthen their contribution at all levels including within the WHO itself. In 2006, Resolution WHA59.27 reaffirmed the essential contributions of N&M professions in health systems.In response to this resolution, a meeting was held in Pakistan resulting in the Islamabad Declaration recommending urgent attention in 3 key areas: scaling up N&M capacity, developing country-specific guidelines regarding skill mix and integrating new cadres of health workers, and promoting positive workplace environments. Regional WHO offices have developed specific plans for HRH development such as the 2007-2015 regional HRH goals that have been developed by the Pan American Health Organization. This paper presents a brief overview of factors influencing the global N&M workforce and recommends ways in which individual nurses and midwives, as well as professional organizations, might work together to address the global N&M shortage.

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