World Health Day: Urgent need for investment in nursing in Lao PDR and worldwide
07 April 2020
Vientiane, 7 April 2020 - A global shortage of nurses is highlighted in a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), released on World Health Day, at a time when nursing staff and other health professionals are working around the clock responding to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The WHO report State of the World’s Nursing 2020 projects that, without action, there will be a shortfall of 4.6 million nurses worldwide by 2030. In Lao PDR, the projected shortfall of nurses is expected to be 4135 by 2030, unless greater investment is made now.
“The case for investing in the nursing workforce has never been clearer,” said Dr Takeshi Kasai, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific. “Right now, nurses are on the front lines of the COVID-19 fight, working tirelessly to save lives and protect others in their community. Governments across the Western Pacific Region must invest in strengthening their nursing workforce as an essential part of preparedness for health challenges such as emerging infectious diseases, but also the health challenges brought about by climate change, ageing populations and a growing burden of noncommunicable diseases.”
State of the World’s Nursing 2020 paints a picture of the unevenly distributed country nursing workforce comprised largely of foreign-trained women between 35-54 years old.
426 nurses in Lao PDR were trained outside the country. Roughly two thirds of nurses in Lao PDR are women and half are between the age of 35-54. There are also more nursing graduates in the country per 100 000 population – 95 compared to the global average of 22.6 per 100 000.
According to the report, 9.71% of Lao PDR’s 6724 nurses are classified as professional nurses, and the rest are associate nurses.
“The Lao nurses are in the front line of the fight against COVID-19. They are playing an important role, working with doctors and other health workers to test for and treat this disease. Lao nurses and midwives have always played a big role in this country’s health system – as can be seen in the two videos we are publishing today. But the country is going to ask even more of its nurses and midwives over the next few weeks as it fights against COVID-19. In order to have enough nurses for Lao PDR’s health system to withstand current and future health challenges, investment in nursing are needed urgently.” said Dr Howard Sobel, acting World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to Lao PDR.
Investment in quality nursing training, ensuring adequate pay and decent working conditions will help to improve health outcomes, promote gender equality and support economic growth in Lao PDR.
For this year’s World Health Day, State of the World’s Nursing 2020 has been produced by WHO in partnership with the International Council of Nurses and the global Nursing Now campaign, as well as support from governments and other partners. The report provides a global picture of the nursing workforce, using data and standardized indicators from 193 countries and areas including Lao PDR. A similar report on the midwifery workforce will be launched in 2021.
Also released today are two videos filmed in Houaphanh province earlier this year. One video follows the work of a nurse and the other tells a story of a midwife. Both of them serve in remote rural communities and play a crucial role in protecting and improving the health of people in these communities.