By Jill Moss

This is the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.

The World Health Organization says the number of nurses and midwives around the world is decreasing. Nurses are health care workers who are trained to care for sick people. Midwives are health care workers who are trained to assist women during childbirth. The World Health Organization says this decrease in skilled health care providers will hurt health care services in many countries.

Most nurses and midwives are said to be leaving the health care profession because of several reasons. They include low pay and poor working conditions. Health care experts discussed these problems during a meeting in December. They met at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Experts said the problems explain why it is becoming more difficult to bring new people into the nursing and midwife professions.

Naeema Al-Gasseer is an expert in nursing and midwifery for the World Health Organization. She says health services in developing countries may suffer most from the shortage. She says more people may get sick and the number of women who die while giving birth may increase. Mizz Al-Gasseer also says the number of deaths of babies and children in developing countries may increase because the services of nurses and midwives will no longer be provided.

Mizz Al-Gasseer also says there is a so-called "skills drain" around the world. This means that nurses and midwives in developing countries are being offered better jobs in industrial counties. As a result, she says an already bad situation is worsening.

For example, the World Health Organization reports about one hospital in Zambia. The hospital has only five-hundred nurses. However, the hospital needs three times as many nurses to operate effectively. This same situation is happening all over the world. For example, the World Health Organization reports there has been a decrease in the number of nurses in Poland, Chile and Egypt.

Because of this problem, the World Health Organization says governments around the world need to take immediate action. It says countries need to solve the problem of the shortage of nurses and midwives to protect the health of their people.

This Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss.

Voice of America Special English