Today, ICN hosted a luncheon for all nurse delegates attending WHA, in person and virtually. Ministers of Health from El Salvador, France, Jamaica, Malawi, New Zealand, Seychelles, Thailand and the UK were also in attendance, along with representatives from ICN’s national nursing associations and a variety of organisations including BBC, CERN, Global Colon Cancer Association, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Organization for Migration (IOM), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Mission Haiti, Nursing Now, SEHA (Abu Dhabi Health Services Company), United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), World Health Organization (WHO), World Patients Alliance (WPA), and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
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 spoke 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.
“Even though I've been heavily involved in the UHC 2030 Task Force and have been able to influence the language in the Action Plan specific to workforce, my comments at the UN high level meeting on pandemic preparedness were also very targeted to highlight how essential it is to strengthen the workforce. The good news is that our colleagues around the world, not only in nursing, very much support those positions.”
“It is really up to us to be that advocate and voice for improving the investment in the nursing workforce, to be able to support and sustain that workforce. Nurses are the group that are going to help stabilize and strengthen our health systems so that we can deliver on UHC, strengthen primary healthcare and be able to address the ongoing agenda for SDGs.”
Dr Cipriano also took a moment to recognise the 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. Explaining the amount of work that goes into planning this event, Ms Burton added,
“The impact that nursing has had in the past eight years has been immense. I remember, in 2016, not hearing much about the health workforce and when I would introduce myself, people would say ‘Oh, nurses are here!’ and then as the years progressed, we were called upon, we were invited more, and so it's been actually fantastic to see the work and the progress that we've made!”
Dr Amelia Latu Afuhaamango Tuipulotu, WHO’s Chief Nursing Officer, also took to the floor to thank Dr Cipriano for her leadership. She told the audience of nurses that she had three asks:
“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 Tuipulotu mentioned the new 25x25x25 Emergency care initiative launched by WHO to train 25% of nurses in 25 countries by 2025 asking for support for the campaign which will strengthen nurses’ and midwives’ knowledge, skills and competencies to deliver basic emergency care.
The ICN President and WHO CEO 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.
Download the communique here