Strengthening nursing & midwifery: scaling up capacity to reach the Millennium Development Goals: a report from Fadwa Affara on a global consultation called by ICM, ICN and WHO, hosted in Islamabad, Pakistan, 5-6 March 2007.

Author:Affara, Fadwa
Position:International Confederation of Midwives , International Council of Nurses and World Health Organization - Report

The following is a summary of the full report by International Nurse Consultant Fadwa Affara, MA, MSc, RGN, SCM, RNT. Copies of the full report can be obtained from ICM or ICN. The Global Consultation, an initiative hosted by the Federal Ministry of Health of Pakistan, in co-operation with the world Health Organization (WHO), the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), was a high level global meeting on issues that are central to strengthening the nursing and midwifery services. The consultation was called to emphasise the crucial contribution of nurses and midwives to health systems, to the health of the people they serve, and to the efforts to achieve the internationally agreed upon health-related development goals.

Participants came from nursing and midwifery organisations in Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, New Zealand, Oman, Singapore and Yemen. The Midwives Association of Pakistan was represented by Mrs Imtiaz Kamal, President. From WHO-HQ came Dr Jean Yan, Chief Scientist for Nursing and Midwifery, from ICN Judith Oulton and from ICM Kathy Herschderfer and Della Sherratt. A number of technical papers were presented:

Scaling-up nursing and midwifery capacity

This paper from the Office of Nursing and Midwifery, Department of Human Resources for Health, WHO, reiterated that the shortage of adequately trained health workers has become a persistent world-wide problem. Stress and insecurity; increased technological and consumer demands; enormous work burdens; risks of injury, illness and threats to security all adversely affect health workers and their willingness or ability to work.

There is a critical shortage of health workers in 57 countries globally, of which 36 are in the WHO African Region. The region of the Americas contains only 10% of the global burden of disease, yet almost 37% of the world's health workers live in this region and spend more than 50% of the world's financial resources for health.

The highest density of health workers is in urban settings; rural areas are usually underserved as they remain unattractive to most health workers. The shortage of nurses and midwives affects educational and training institutions as well, and consequently has an impact on the production of the health workforce.

Three main activity areas are highlighted: improving capacity to educate health care workers and to utilise those available effectively; identifying the appropriate mix of skills and competencies to meet the health needs of communities; ensuring regulatory frameworks are in...

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