The world is facing a shortage of six million nurses and midwives, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation said.
Tedros spoke at the opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly, the first to be held by teleconferencing by the 194 member states.
The WHO boss recalled the agency’s first state of the World’ nursing report, which pinpointed the shortage.
According to him, the nurses are needed to achieve and sustain universal health coverage.
He urged nations to invest in nursing.
“This Assembly was intended to be a moment of recognition for the incredible contribution that nurses and midwives make every day, in every country,” Tedros said wistfully.
“The pandemic has robbed us of that opportunity. But it has only served to illustrate why nurses, midwives and all health workers are so important.
“Nurses and midwives have been on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19, putting themselves in harm’s way. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice in service of humanity.
“Now more than ever, the world needs nurses and midwives.
“Please join me, wherever you are, in standing to show your appreciation for these true health heroes..”
President Emmanuel Macron of France and President Xi Jinping of China addressed the Assembly.
The refrain was that the world needs cooperation to fight its emergent health crisis.
Said Macron: “This is one of the most important assemblies in the history of the WHO. It must be a moment for unity, solidarity, clear thought & action in the face of what is an unprecedented global crisis affecting all of us”.
Xi Jinping promised a $2billion COVID-19 aid to support poor countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
China will also will work with the UN to set up a global humanitarian response depot & hub in China, to ensure the operation of COVID19 pandemic response supply chains.
It will establish a cooperation mechanism to pair up with 30 African hospitals and accelerate the building of @AfricaCDC headquarters.