Statement on the occasion of International Nurses Day, 12 May 2008

International Nursing Day is celebrated around the world every May 12. The 2008 theme is "Delivering Quality, Serving Communities Nurses Leading Primary Health Care".

On the occasion of International Nurses Day, the Global Health Workforce Alliance underlines the important and critical role nursing has to play within the primary health care arena.

Nurses do more than care for individuals. They are at the very heart of our communities and are leading the way in ensuring active participation of citizens and communities in addressing health issues and accessing health services. Nurses advocate for health promotion, educate patients and the public on the prevention of illness and injury, provide care and assist in cure, participate in rehabilitation, and provide support. Their role is broad, far-reaching role and central to community health.

Nursing, like almost all health professions, is facing critical shortages in personnel. The widespread shortage of health workers across the world has been identified as one of the most critical constraints to the achievement of health and development goals. The 2006 World Health Report estimated a global shortage of 4.3 million health workers, including 2.4 million physicians, nurses and midwives. Underinvestment in the health sector in many countries has resulted in a deterioration of working conditions. This has had a serious negative impact on the recruitment and retention of health personnel, the productivity and performance of health facilities, and ultimately on patient outcomes.

On this day to mark the exceptional work carried out by nurses, the Global Health Workforce Alliance stresses its support to nursing communities across the world and calls upon governments and partners to remember the pivotal role played by nurses in the delivery of health care. GHWA urges increased investment in training and recruitment of nurses, at all levels, ensuring a committed and motivated health workforce to better serve our communities.