The International Council of Nurses (ICN) on Monday warned of shortages of nurses at the global level, suggesting that the issue should be treated as a global health emergency.
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"Health systems around the world will only start to recover from the effects of the pandemic and be rebuilt when there is sufficient investment in a well-supported global nursing workforce," according to a newly published report, by the ICN, titled, Recover to Rebuild: Investing in the Nursing Workforce for Health System Effectiveness.
The finding revealed that 40% to 80% of nurses reported having experienced symptoms of psychological distress, nurses’ intention to leave rates have risen to 20% or more and annual hospital turnover rates had increased to 10% and even more.
"Our report substantiates what we have been saying since the start of the pandemic: nurses were on the front lines, and often on the firing line, and it has taken its toll," said ICN President Pamela Cipriano.
"But the clock is ticking. It’s time to stop ignoring the solutions and take decisive action now," she said, adding that nurses are the essential life force for building healthier communities.
Absences from work and strikes affecting the nursing workforce are symptoms of the ongoing dangerous state of healthcare, and they must be addressed urgently, according to the ICN which is a federation of more than 130 national nurses associations, representing 28 million nurses worldwide.
"The worldwide shortage of nurses needs to be considered as a global health emergency and recovery from the current situation must be a priority for governments everywhere," said the ICN CEO Howard Catton, who is also a co-author of the report.
Reiterating the importance of the recovery of the nursing workforce for a better health system, he stressed that to think otherwise is "a fantasy."
"And without a sustainable, properly distributed global nursing workforce, the realisation of the goal of health for all will only ever be a pipe dream." ■