Nursing

Frontline health workers, including nurses, midwives and community health workers (CHWs), are vital for effective, strong primary healthcare systems that deliver for everyone, everywhere. These cadres of health workers are the first, and in some cases often the only, point of contact with the health system for millions of people. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, nurses stepped up to lead not only at testing sites but in critical care of very ill patients, and community health workers played key roles in contact tracing and testing in many countries around the world.
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“Nurses are the front lines of public health,” says Kate Garrison, RN BA, who has been in the field for over two decades, including in her current role as case manager at a small community hospital in New England. Garrison feels the two disciplines—public health and nursing—need to talk to each other more. “Nurses are gathering public health data all day long,” she adds, “but it isn’t seen that way because no one is asking them to share that data.”
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At the Johnson & Johnson Center for Health Worker Innovation, we believe that sustainable improvements in the delivery of and access to quality primary care require a long-term commitment to enabling and supporting the well-being of the deliverer of care—the frontline health worker.
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To say that 2020 has been a challenging year would be the understatement of the century. So much has changed for the world community since COVID-19, and countless governments, non-governmental organizations and companies are bringing their unique capabilities and resources to bear in profound ways.
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By WHO estimates we need 18 million more frontline health workers (FLHWs) by 2030 to achieve SDG targets and other global health aspirations. An article authored by the Center for Health Worker Innovation's Joanne Peter, published on the ICTworks™ website, discusses how task shifting to virtual services is an opportunity for health systems to do more with the FLHWs they currently have.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly underscored the urgent need to close the critical gap in health worker coverage. According to the The State of the World’s Nursing Report (2020) by the World Health Organization (WHO), the South-East Asia region is projected to have under 25 nurses per 10,000 people by 2030, below the WHO’s benchmark of 27.4 nurses per 10,000. The countries accounting for the largest shortages in 2018 included Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Nigeria.
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen the impact of overburdened health systems pushed to the limit and the heart of those systems – our health and other essential workers – rise to the occasion with remarkable expertise and determination despite enormous risks. But that determination clearly comes at a cost and begs the question: How can we better care for those who are caring for us?
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With more than 5.1 billion unique mobile subscribers on the planet, access to a mobile phone now outstrips access to essential health services. Digital technologies—and mobile phones in particular—have potential to dramatically alter how healthcare is delivered and received.
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