Human resources for health

Nursing & midwifery overview

Nurses and midwives comprise the largest portion of the health workforce in most countries. They deliver core services at all levels of the health system and across the continuum of care to promote health, improve patient care, service delivery and health outcomes. Many countries continue to experience ongoing nursing and midwifery staff shortages, inequitable distribution of capabilities and skill-mix imbalances.

Global strategic directions

The Strategic Directions for Strengthening Nursing and Midwifery (SDNM) for 2011-2015 draws on several key World Health Assembly resolutions, and are underpinned by the associated global policy recommendations and codes of practice. After two years of extensive research and consultation, a SDNM task force was developed, and a consensus on a range of specific activities revolving around 13 objectives in five interrelated key result areas (KRAs) was achieved:
• health system and service strengthening;
• policy and practice;
• education, training and career development;
• workforce management; and
• partnership.

Nursing & midwifery databanks

WHO Regional country nursing and midwifery data banks provide a ‘snapshot’ view of nursing/midwifery in each country. The data banks include:
• historical events in nursing/midwifery;
• regulations and laws;
• nursing and midwifery education;
• resources available;
• main nursing/midwifery issues/priorities; and
• important policies or strategies needed.

The data banks highlight nursing and midwifery in Member States and serve as useful information and advocacy resources.

Education Quality Standards

Problem Statement, Situation Analysis

The standards and quality of education and training of nurses and midwives are low and poor in many countries, resulting in a health workforce ill-prepared to effectively respond to rapidly changing and complex existing and future health systems and population health challenges. Nursing and midwifery knowledge imparted to students, interpersonal interactions and practices displayed are often out-dated, non-evidence-based and ineffective in enabling students to acquire the necessary astute clinical reasoning skills for safe practice.


Contact us:

Human Resources for Health
World Health Organization
Western Pacific Regional Office
P.O.Box 2932, 1000 Manila, Philippines

Tel: (63 2) 528 8001 (Trunkline)
Fax: (63 2) 521 1036