Nurses and Midwives: A force for health (2009)



This report sets out the findings from the third monitoring review of the situation of nursing and midwifery in Europe, undertaken in the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region during 2008/2009. Thirty-five countries, constituting two-thirds of the Member States, provided information.

The origin of this work is the WHO European Region Munich Declaration (2000), Nurses and Midwives: A force for health. The principles described within the Declaration are the basis of the Nursing and Midwifery programme of work, led by the WHO Regional Office for Europe. Regular progress reviews in respect of these principles have been undertaken in the 53 European Member States. Evidence from these reviews assists Member States in determining the actions they need to take to strengthen nursing and midwifery.

In recent years, attention to the important contribution nursing and midwifery makes to health has been a feature of global discussions. The 62nd World Health Assembly held in May 2009, adopted a resolution committing Member States to the renewal of the principles of Primary Health Care (PHC), including strengthening health systems. The resolution makes specific reference to the nursing and midwifery workforce. The Assembly also received a report on the progress of the health related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), noting poor progress in some areas such as maternal and child health. Nurses and midwives are well-recognized and essential to providing good health care. This view was reinforced in the International Conference on New Frontiers in Primary Health Care: Role of Nursing and Other Professions, which took place from 4-6 February 2008, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Representatives from the six WHO regions unanimously endorsed the Chiang Mai Declaration, which recognizes that:

Nursing and midwifery is a vital component of the health workforce and are acknowledged professionals who contribute significantly to the achievements of PHC and the MDGs.

The report also considers broader factors such as political will and commitment to strengthen nursing and midwifery, legislation and regulatory frameworks and the involvement of nurses and midwives in decision-making on health policy and service development. The report indicates the major public health challenges that need to be addressed across Europe, most significantly the increasing numbers of people living with chronic conditions and needing long-term care.