Nearly a thousand health workers, mostly nurses, have contracted coronavirus in Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday, as the world marks International Nurses Day 2020.

“Stakeholders must ensure that nurses have the supplies and equipment they need to deliver care safely. Nurses are essential in keeping communities healthy! #NursesDay2020,” the WHO African Region tweeted.

The day is observed on May 12 every year to mark the contributions of nurses to the society. It also celebrates the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, a British social reformer and the founder of modern nursing.

The theme for this year is ”Nursing the World to Health”.

Nurses account for more than half of all the world’s health workers, yet there is an urgent shortage of nurses worldwide with 5.9 million more nurses still needed, especially in low- and middle-income countries, according to the WHO.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the vital role nurses play. Without nurses and other health workers, we will not win the battle against outbreaks, we will not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals or universal health coverage,” the UN health agency said in a statement.

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