Honouring the life of a great leader, Dr. Nelly Garzón Alarcón

18 April 2019

It is with great sadness and regret that we announce the passing of Dr. Nelly Garzón Alarcón, ICN President from 1985-1989. Dr Garzón was elected as ICN President in 1985 at the 18th ICN Congress in Tel Aviv, Israel.

The first South American President of ICN, she chose the watchword “Justice” for her presidency. It is touching that Dr Garzón should leave us in this year when ICN is celebrating the theme Nurses: A Voice to Lead Health for All. In 1988 Dr Garzón was presented with the World Health Organization’s Health for All Medal for her leadership in ICN and for ICN’s contribution to the worldwide movement for achieving WHO’s goals for 2000 through PHC. This was the first time WHO had awarded such a medal to a nurse.

During her final years, Dr Garzón was a nursing professor in graduate programmes at the National University of Colombia until 2006 and the same university confers her the Doctor Honoris Cause in 2011.

She led the legal regulation of nurses in Colombia including establishment of the “Law 266, 1996” and the Nursing Ethical Law “Law 911, 2006”. She was the first president of Tribunal Nacional Etico de Enfermería (National Ethical Nursing Court) (1997-2002; 2002-2006); and managed the Upsilon Nu Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) at the National University of Colombia.

She was the STTI Regional Coordinator for Latin American and Caribbean (2011-2013). In 2015, she received the Nell J. Watts Life Time Achievement in Nursing Award by the Sigma Global Nursing Excellence organisation. Dr Garzón’s outstanding contributions to ICN and to nursing worldwide mark her as one of the world’s great leaders in nursing. She will be sorely missed by ICN and the nursing community around the world.