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WHO Declares 2020 the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife

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And Celebrates Their Contribution to Global Health

By Allison Kozicharow; edited by Jessie Crowdy

Nurses and midwives play a vital role in providing health services to people in low-resource communities where doctors are in alarmingly short supply. To honor their work, the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners named 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

The delivery of health and medical services has evolved over the years. What was once solely a doctor-centric model has changed to a health consortium model wherein health workers possessing various skills contribute to individual and community health.

Health workers often provide underserved populations with the first and sometimes only line of defense against disease. A recent story on this WiRED International website described the upcoming spring launch of WiRED’s comprehensive community health worker (CHW) training curriculum. This program has been carefully designed around WHO’s guidelines to prepare community members to address the health needs of underserved populations.

Nurses and midwives provide general health care and advice, give life-saving immunizations and care for mothers and children. In addition to our CHW program, WiRED offers a Mother and Child Health Series. This 24-part series begins with family planning issues, moves on to pregnancy and maternal care, labor and delivery and care of the child to age five.

Alice Olwino, a Kenyan nurse, said, “What I have learned from WiRED has enabled me to give critical information to pregnant mothers about HIV and AIDS and how to prevent mother to child transmission. Also, there are many malnourished children in the slums of Kisumu who have benefitted from the knowledge I received from WiRED.”

During 2020, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “Nurses and midwives are the backbone of every health system: in 2020 we’re calling on all countries to invest in nurses and midwives as part of their commitment to health for all.”