2020: International Year of Nurses and Midwives

2020 AWARDS: The annual HESTA Nursing and Midwifery Awards will be held via video link due to current restrictions. Photo: Shutterstock.

2020 AWARDS: The annual HESTA Nursing and Midwifery Awards will be held via video link due to current restrictions. Photo: Shutterstock.

The World Health Organisation's declaration that 2020 is the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife is an opportunity to acknowledge the vital role of nurses and midwives in providing health services, and to lobby for increased investment to support their profession.

According to WHO, the world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives if it is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.

"These are the people who devote their lives to caring for mothers and children, giving lifesaving immunisations and health advice, looking after older people and generally meeting everyday essential health needs. They are often the first and only point of care in their communities."

Investing in nurses and midwives is good value for money, says WHO.

The UN High Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth concluded that investments in education and job creation in the health and social sectors deliver a triple return in improved health outcomes, global health security, and inclusive economic growth.

Investing in midwifery, where care covers maternal and newborn health as well as for family planning, could avert over 80 per cent of all maternal deaths, stillbirths and neonatal deaths, according to WHO figures.

Nursing and midwifery represents the largest female workforce in the world.

Nurses and midwives account for nearly 50 per cent of the global health workforce, and 70 per cent of them are women.

In Australia, our most outstanding nurses and midwives will be celebrated in a special ceremony on May 6.

The 2020 HESTA Nursing and Midwifery Awards will acknowledge the exceptional leadership and work taking place in the sector across, with awards presented for Nurse of the Year, Midwife of the Year and Outstanding Organisation.

The 10 finalists were revealed as HESTA announced changes to the ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The awards will now be presented via video.

HESTA chief executive Debby Blakey said the organisation was working on a way to recognise the achievements of Australia's nurses and midwives in the safest way possible.

"The unprecedented events of this year - first with bushfires and now with coronavirus - have only demonstrated how incredibly important these professions are in protecting our communities and providing outstanding care to all Australians.

"This year's finalists have demonstrated extraordinary leadership and commitment to improving patient care in Australia, and we are honoured to continue putting a spotlight on their contributions and achievements through these awards."

Each of the three winners will receive $10,000, courtesy of major sponsor ME Bank, towards further education or team development.

For more information about the awards and how to access the video link, visit hestaawards.com.au.