About Nurses:

  • Nurses already make a very substantial contribution to healthcare science including developing innovative research methods and using these methods to investigate issues of importance to improving global health.
  • Nurses represent the largest occupational group in the health sector, accounting for approximately 59% of the health professions.

Shortages of Nurses:

  • The State of the World’s Nursing Report 2020 estimate of nursing shortage by 2030, if the current trends are maintained, is consistent with (5.7 million nurses versus 5.6 million) the Global Strategy estimate.
  • To address the shortage by 2030 in all countries, the total number of nurse graduates would need to increase by 8% per year on average.


  • Nine out of 10 nurses globally are female, with important regional variations. In the African Region, the female-male ratio is 3:1. Male nurses outnumber females in 13 countries.

Gender Wage Gap:

  • Few leadership positions in health are held by nurses or women. There is some evidence of a gender-based pay gap, as well as other forms of gender-based discrimination in the work environment. Analyses by WHO found that health leadership positions continue to be dominated by men, with only 25% of leadership positions in health globally being held by women.


  • Sexual harassment in the workplace is a problem faced by women across the health workforce, including nurses (25%) and midwives (37%).


  • One nurse out of eight (13%) was born or trained in a country other than the one in which they currently practise.


  • Ageing health workforce patterns in some regions threaten the stability of the nursing stock. One out of six of the world’s nurses are expected to retire in the next 10 years, posing a further replenishment challenge.

(Excerpts from WHO The State of the World’s Nursing Report – 2020)