International Council of Nurses (ICN) President Dr Pamela Cipriano and World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Nursing Officer Dr Amelia Latu Afuhaamango Tuipulotu held a celebratory webinar on May 12, to mark International Nurses Day.
Dr Cipriano used the webinar to introduce ICN’s year-long International Nurses Day campaign, Our Nurses, Our Future, while Dr Tuipulotu praised ICN’s leadership and highlighted the importance of having a collective voice for the world’s 28 million nurses.
Dr Cipriano spoke about ICN’s Charter for Change, which was published as part of the campaign. The Charter contains ten policy actions that ICN believes are essential for governments and employers to take in order to have sustainable health systems that are safe, affordable, accessible and responsive to populations’ needs.
Dr Cipriano said: “We want to be sure that nurses move from being invisible to invaluable. We want to learn from the lessons of the pandemic, so our message is clear: we need to value, respect, protect and invest in nursing – not just for the future of nursing, but for the future of health care.”
She thanked nurses and said she wanted to celebrate nurses’ contributions, sacrifices and commitment to nursing, for the profession and for the people of the world.
Speaking directly to nurses she said: “I applaud the work of ICN and WHO. Nurses, I am proud of your talents, your knowledge, your passion, your compassion and care for the world’s population. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic we must now translate lessons learned into health systems to ensure that nurses are better protected in any future pandemics and emergencies.”
Dr Tuipulotu praised nurses everywhere, including those who work in “isolated and vulnerable communities, who are often the only health care workers that people ever see.” She said such nurses need more support, including through better connections and digital communication.
Dr Tuipulotu said politicians need to scale up their efforts and investments to enable nurses to help make Universal Health Coverage (UHC) a reality so that the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be met.
She called on nurses to engage with politicians, with finance ministries, with potential donors and partners so that they have a better understanding of nurses’ work and the impact that it will have with regard to UHC and SDGs. “Nurses need to be able to have strong partnerships and get commitments from politicians to support nurses everywhere.”
Key messages in the Charter for Change are about protecting the profession, making sure nurses have safe and healthy working conditions, looking after nurses’ psychological health, investing in nurse education and having better workforce plans.
Dr Cipriano and Dr Tuipulotu spoke about the importance of nurses being able to work to the full scope of their practice, and the growing importance of advanced nursing practice, especially in the realm of public health care.
Dr Cipriano said it is important that nurses send the economic message that investment in nursing and health care are investments in the people.
“When we invest in people we have healthy communities, we have healthy workers, we have healthy economies and that creates not only health security, but economic security. Nurses become integral to helping our countries realise that. And we don’t need to apologise for asking for these investments.”
Dr Cipriano illustrated her point by sharing a message she had heard at a recent United Nations meeting: “Only healthy children learn, and only healthy adults earn.”
In closing the webinar Dr Tuipulotu said all nurses need to raise their voices collectively for what is good and just for vulnerable populations, and for children and their futures.
Dr Cipriano said her wish was that the Charter for Change would be used everywhere to create the change that all nurses want.
‘We want to design our future in a way that attracts hundreds of thousands of individuals to become nurses, and to keep the nurses what we have, and to be able to send the message that we are a big part of the solution for delivering the SDGs, UHC, Health for All, and creating a healthier world.”
Download the communique here