On Feb. 27, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, along with nurses and other healthcare leaders from around the world launched Nursing Now. The global initiative hopes to raise the profile and status of nursing, with the ultimate goal of moving toward universal healthcare for all.

The three-year campaign will run through 2020, ending on the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth — a year when nurses will be celebrated worldwide. The Nursing Now initiative is being run as a program of the Burdett Trust for Nursing, in collaboration with the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The campaign was sparked by the "Triple Impact" report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health. The report called for raising the profile of nursing globally and enabling nurses to work at their full potential. It also speculates that with an increasing number of nurses, there will be a wider triple impact on improving health, promoting gender equality and supporting economic growth.

In keeping with the recommendations form the Triple Impact report, the goals that the campaign aims to achieve by 2020 are:

  • Greater investment in improving education, professional development, standard, regulation and employment conditions for nurses
  • Increased and improved dissemination of effective and innovative practice in nursing
  • Greater influence for nurses and midwives on global and national policy
  • More nurses in leadership positions and more opportunities for development at all levels
  • More evidence for policy and decision makers about where nursing can have the greatest impact, what stops them and what are the obstacles

Nurse play a crucial role in health promotion, disease prevention, treatment and care. They are the linchpin of most healthcare teams and repeatedly recognized as a trusted profession.

The WHO estimates that nurses and midwives make up nearly 50 percent of the health workers around the world. However, it estimates that by 2030, the world will need an additional 9 million nurses. The Nursing Now campaign hopes to help fill this gap, but also to empower and strengthen the profession from within by training and fostering leaders that have a rightful place at the table where key decisions are being made.

The launch of the campaign was celebrated globally with events in London and Geneva being simulcast to sites around the world. In London, Middleton, who is in her third trimester of her pregnancy, lamented on the value of nurses and her interest in the campaign.

"This campaign means a lot to me personally. My great-grandmother and grandmother were both volunteer nurses," Middleton said. "They would have learned firsthand from working with the Voluntary Aid Detachment and the Red Cross about the care and compassion that sometimes only nurses can provide."

She further reminded the participants, "Nurses are always there, You care for us from the earliest years. You look after us in our happiest and saddest times. And for many, you look after us and our families at the end of our lives. Your dedication and professionalism are awe-inspiring."

This same sentiment was echoed just a few days later by Pope Francis during a meeting with thousands of Italian nurses on March 5. During his appearance, Pope Francis paid tribute to an Italian nurse who saved his life in Argentina.

"When, at the age of 20, I was on the verge of death, she was the one who told the doctors, even arguing with them, 'No, this isn't working. You must give more,'" the Pope said. "And thanks to those things, I survived. I thank her so much! I thank her. And I'd like to say her name here, in your presence: Sister Cornelia Caraglio. A great woman, brave too, to the point of arguing with the doctors. Humble, but sure of what she was doing."

Pope Francis went on to discuss and recognize the impact nurses have on the lives of the patients and families they care for on a daily basis.

"The sensitivity you acquire by being in contact with patients all day," he said, "makes you promoters of the life and dignity of persons." He also praised nurse's continuous commitment to the patients despite their societal status, which he called important in a society that routinely leaves weaker people on the margin.

So as the week came to an end, it was clear that the value of nursing was being put in a new global light. Also, the value of nursing, although not always tangible or measurable, is invaluable to the lives of the patients they care for from the marginalized to a princess and even to a pope.

If you would like to pledge your support for the Nursing Now campaign or find out ways you can help spread the message, please visit their website here.