The national consultation on the status of Nurses for the Year 2020 was organized on 12th of January 2021. Steered by the Planning Commission, the annual review meeting was attended by representatives from Pakistan Nursing Council, provincial directorates of nursing, Overseas Employment Corporation, Prime Minister’s Task Force on Nursing and Higher Education Commission. Lauding the achievements, contributions and sacrifices of nurses in combatting COVID19, the meeting consolidated national and provincial stocks of nursing education and recaptured the provincial initiatives undertaken in the past year for the advancement of the nursing profession. 

Chairing the annual review meeting, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Dr Jahanzaib Khan in his opening remarks paid a rich tribute to the nurses battling COVID19 at the frontline, praising their immense and exemplary sacrifices in saving countless lives and their relentless support to the health system overall. The nation is indebted to our nursing workforce for this. By putting their own lives in mortal danger during this pandemic, through their perseverance, they have set examples of integrity and national spirit. They are the custodians of health services. He highlighted the recent paradigm shift in nursing role globally, from caregiver to decision-maker for patient care, and the national need to be prepared for this change. He also welcomed the shift to 16 years of education like other education programs, and that this will play a role in elevating the status of nursing education in the country. The Deputy Chairman emphasized the need to strengthen the Pakistan Nursing Council to enable it to discharge its mandated functions. He also praised the 1000 Nursing Scholarships launched by the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, under the visionary leadership of Federal Minister Mr Shafqat Mehmood, and that similar initiatives need to be expanded. Of these 1000 scholarships 155 have been awarded to Balochistan, 211 to KPK, 249 to Sindh, 246 to Punjab and 129 to ICT, AJK and GB. 

Member Social Sector, Dr Shabnum Sarfraz opened the forum, highlighting the role of nurses as the lynchpin of health teams. She said that the Government of Pakistan recognizes the need to invest in nursing to expedite the national trajectory towards achieving SDG3 and Universal Health Coverage. She shared that the Planning Commission is working towards releasing the 2020-year in review for the nursing report, which was appreciated by the audience. She also said that to celebrate the nurses’ contribution, in 2021, the WHO-declared International Year of Health and Care Workers, International Women’s day celebrations in Pakistan will focus on celebrating their achievements.

The Registrar Pakistan Nursing Council (PNC) Ms Fouzia Mushtaq gave an overview of the role of PNC, the national and provincial situation of nurses and midwives, apprising the audience of the nursing stocks in the country. She updated regarding the phasing out of diploma program, advances in overseas employment, collaboration with Pakistan Medical Commission for the establishment of nursing colleges in affiliation with medical and dental colleges and the headway made towards the establishment of King Hammad Nursing University in Islamabad. Initiation of Journal of Nursing, PNC’s MOU with International Council of Nursing for online CPD programs during COVID19 and certification of 8000+ nurses to-date was highly lauded. 

Representatives from provincial directorates of nursing gave comprehensive presentations on the status of training institutions for nursing and midwifery, seats, trends in intake and outputs. They also appraised the competent forum of the challenges they are facing with respect to faculty development. Representatives from the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination updated regarding the finalization of PC1 focusing on faculty development for nursing, to which DCPC advised to expedite the process.  

A representative from Overseas Employment Corporation (OEC) updated the audience around the increasing trend of overseas migration of both nurses and midwives, and recent initiatives, including the breakthrough with Middle-east countries and UK.

Hamza Habib is a senior journalist and former editor of who has previously worked for leading newspapers and TV networks of the country. He mainly writes on the economy and political issues.


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