ICN intervenes on key healthcare issues at the 152nd session of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Executive Board

7 February 2023

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has represented the voices of nurses on key healthcare issues in its interventions at the WHO Executive Board meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, which ran from 30 January to 07 February.

As one of the first non-governmental organisations to be accepted into official relations with the World Health Organization in 1948, ICN has had a long and productive relationship with WHO.

Its interventions at the 152nd session of the WHO Executive Board ensured the nursing voice was heard in discussions about Universal Health Coverage, the Prevention and Control Of Non-Communicable Diseases in Mental Health, Infection Prevention and Control, Strengthening WHO’s Preparedness for and Response to Health Emergencies (with the World Health Professions Alliance) and the Global Health for Peace initiative.

ICN also intervened in a discussion about how so-called non-state actors, such as ICN, can be more involved in the governance of WHO.

Speaking after the event, ICN Chief Executive Officer Howard Catton said there was special recognition of the role of nurses and healthcare workers by WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

In a video posted on YouTube, Mr Catton said: “The Director General often talks about health workers being the backbones of our health systems, and of course, he’s right. But this week, he and delegates have stressed even more the protections needed for our health workers. Worryingly, attacks on health workers and facilities have gone up over the last year, and we’ve also heard of the need for better protections for those countries that are losing nurses to international recruitment.

‘There can be no doubt about the enormity of the challenges we are facing, from war and conflict to climate change, and that we need our political leaders to come to a consensus more than ever before. To be frank, we have seen signs of differences during the course of the last few days, but a huge note of optimism is the WHO’s Global Health for Peace initiative, recognising the inextricable link between health and peace, and nurses as both health and peacemakers.

‘I also had the opportunity to meet with WHO’s wonderful new Chief Nursing Officer, Dr Amelia Tuipulotu, who I have no doubt is going to be a fabulous advocate for the profession. We roll through now to the World Health Assembly in a few weeks’ time: there can be no doubt that health has never been such a truly global endeavour.”

Mr Catton also expressed his concern for nurses in Turkey and Syria following the devastating earthquakes in those countries on February 6, and said that ICN had sent them messages of support and solidarity.

Download the communique here