On Universal Health Care Day ICN says massive investment in nursing is crucial to expansion of primary health care

12 December 2023
PR 45

To mark Universal Health Care Day, 12 December, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) is again calling for a massive investment in nursing to reinvigorate progress towards Universal Health Care (UHC), following setbacks and reversals caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

ICN has said that UHC cannot be achieved without a large and prolonged investment in nursing, because primary health care (PHC), which is vital for UHC, can only be achieved by a huge increase in the number of nurses working within communities.

Recent data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that progress towards achieving UHC by the 2030 target date has stagnated and even reversed in some areas. It says 4.5 billion people still lack access to essential health services, and two billion people cannot afford to pay for the care that they need.

ICN President Dr Pamela Cipriano, who is a member of the United Nations International Health Partnerships for UHC2030 Steering Committee, said: “Nurses are at the centre of UHC. Politicians and leaders around the world need to invest in nurses because they are the key enablers of primary care. It is nurses who provide the care that people need across the spectrum of health, from prevention to rehabilitation, and from birth to death.”

At the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) High-Level Meeting in New York in September, Dr Cipriano welcomed the new Political Declaration on UHC, saying: “Universal Health Care can only be achieved through having nurses working closely with individuals, families and communities in their homes and neighbourhoods.”

Dr Cipriano has championed this year’s UHC Day campaign by participating in WHO’s social media campaign. Her contribution to the campaign reads: “UHC relies on boosting primary health care, which is all about nursing care. Leaders need to invest in nurses to be sure they are where they are needed most, and that is working with individuals, families, and communities - alongside patients in their everyday lives.”

Universal Health Care Day, 12 December, is an official United Nations-designated day, established in 2012, to mark the unanimous endorsement of UHC as an essential priority for WHO Member States.