ICN at the 76th World Health Assembly in Geneva - 24 May 2023

25 May 2023
WS 28

ICN has a delegation of nurses at the WHA, with six delegates attending in person, and around 80 following the proceedings online. Today they continued making contributions to the debates and discussions of the WHA, including two formal interventions. Intervention

1 - Universal Health Coverage

Michelle Gunn, Chief Nursing Officer Al Dhafra Hospitals, Abu Dhabi, and a former ICN Global Nursing Leadership Institute scholar, presented ICN’s intervention at WHA’s discussions about Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

UHC means that all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship. It is one of the targets nations set in 2015 as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which are supposed to be met by 2030. Planned progress towards achieving UHC has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her intervention Ms Gunn said ICN strongly encourages governments to make urgent and strenuous efforts to follow the UHC2030 From Commitment to Action plan, to ensure that UHC is achievable by 2030.

Ms Gunn said: “As a priority, governments, together with other country-level leaders, must embed UHC in their national health policy frameworks and budgets. It is also critically important to support, grow and protect the global nursing and healthcare workforce.

‘Nurses are essential for rebuilding the strong and resilient health systems that are needed to deliver care in all situations, including emergencies, conflicts, natural disasters and the daily management of care across the lifespan, as well as for ensuring health security.”

Intervention 2 - WHO Global strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016–2030)

Erica Burton, ICN’s Consultant Nursing and Health Policy Senior Advisor, made an intervention in discussions about WHO’s strategy to transform women’s health care.

Ms Burton said: “ICN strongly abhors the lack of access to services by women, their pervasive low socioeconomic status, and societal values that tolerate violence, sexual abuse and other violations of women’s rights that are having a direct impact on the health of women and girls.

‘ICN urges Member States to ensure access to sexual, reproductive, maternal, new-born and adolescent health services that are provided in a safe and inclusive environment. ICN also believes that countries must urgently prioritise actions and policies that protect and support the mental health of women, children and adolescents, and that mitigate and address the impacts of climate change on their health.”

ICN Nurse Delegates Luncheon

ICN also hosted a luncheon for all nurse delegates attending WHA, in person and virtually, which was also attended by dignitaries from a wide range of nations and global organisations, including the ministers of health from El Salvador, France, Jamaica, Malawi, New Zealand, Seychelles, Thailand and the UK , representatives from ICN’s member organisations and senior representatives from leading health and humanitarian organisations.

Dr Pamela Cipriano, ICN President, welcomed the delegates and thanked everyone for attending. Dr Cipriano mentioned the WHA’s theme this year, WHO at 75: Saving lives. driving health for all, highlighting that ICN has been making interventions at the WHA for the past 75 years.

“There has to be a nurse's voice, because nurses are fundamental to health, so we're glad those of you who are official members of your delegation are here as it is vitally important, as the largest profession, to be able to speak out on health issues.”

Dr Cipriano spoke about the importance of investment in health for all and about her recent participation in the United Nations high level meeting on pandemic preparedness and response, stressing the need for a strong and supported nursing workforce.

Dr Cipriano also took a moment to recognise nurses working in areas of conflict, including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Haiti, Myanmar, Sudan and Ukraine.

ICN CEO Howard Catton read a statement from the Sudanese Nurses Organization, which thanked ICN for its support and solidarity, and highlighted the difficult circumstances in which Sudanese nurses are currently working.

ICN nursing policy analysts, Erica Burton and Hoi Shan Fokeladeh, also welcomed participants to the ICN Nurse Delegates Luncheon and spoke about the important interventions that ICN had made so far.

Dr Amelia Afuhaamango Tuipulotu, WHO’s Chief Nursing Officer, took to the floor to thank Dr Cipriano for her leadership, and told the nurses present that she had three requests:

“One is amplifying our voices...We need to sing the same song to invest, protect and strengthen the solution to reach universal health coverage and the sustainable development goals

‘Secondly, we need to transform care, so that our populations feel the value, respect and compassion and, of course, safe quality care that you always deliver.

‘Lastly, I call upon all of us to scale up our partnerships so that our voices are listened to, our voices are respected, valued, and all the skills of our nurses are taking into account to transform and enhance health systems to better serve the most vulnerable population of the world.”

Dr Cipriano and Mr Catton concluded the luncheon by encouraging all nurses to attend the ICN Congress in Montreal in July and wishing the delegates success in their discussions at WHA.

Side events

In addition to other meetings at WHA Dr Cipriano and Mr Catton attended the following side events:

Dr Cipriano participated in an even about Integrated Emergency, Critical and Operative Care for Universal Health Coverage and Protection from Health Emergencies.

Mr Catton attended a Johnson & Johnson Health Workforce Event at WHA entitled "Strengthening Health Systems to Achieve UHC: Innovation by and for the Frontline of Care”.

Dr Cipriano and Mr Catton met with Brigitte Feuillebois, the French Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), and they both met with WHO CNO and the WHO Nursing regional advisors.

Mr Catton attended an event on ‘Gender Equity in the Health Workforce for Health Systems Strengthening’.

Download the communique here