International Council of Nurses President Dr Pamela Cipriano, told the Channel Africa podcast that nurses must be central to our future healthcare systems. In a wide-ranging interview related to the launch of ICN’s Charter for Change on International Nurses Day (IND), Dr Cipriano spoke about how IND focused the world’s attention on the amazing work that nurses do and their contribution to healthcare in all its forms throughout the human life span.
Dr Cipriano said ICN’s ten-point Charter for Change can be used by national nurses associations to advocate for governments to establish health care policies which will create a sustainable global healthcare system.
She said ICN recognised that countries were suffering from the current global economic and political crisis but that investment in healthcare at this time is crucial and that is why ICN had created the Charter.
“We are asking for more money to be invested in health because we know that health is wealth. If we don’t have health, we don’t have healthy people, and we don’t have healthy economies. We want to flip the narrative: we want our policymakers and elected officials to look at healthcare and health workers as an investment, not just a cost.”
In the interview, Dr Cipriano also stressed the importance of International Nurses Day, but noted that we should also recognise and value nurses throughout the year.
“We don’t want it to be just one day of the year, but this is the time to call attention to the critical contributions of nurses. The number one challenge facing nurses right now are their working conditions, which have been complicated by the many effects of the pandemic.
‘We know we don’t have enough nurses in many of our care locations, and the tragedy for African nations is that half of the global shortage of nurses is in Africa. Nurses are working harder and longer hours, with heavier workloads, and that takes its toll physically and emotionally.”
Dr Cipriano spoke about the need to advocate for better pay for nurses, and also to protect them from infectious diseases, violence and sexual harassment in the workplace. She highlighted the importance of having a working environment that supports individual nurses, treats them fairly, protects their rights, invites them to participate in decision-making, and makes sure that they can deliver the care that people need.
Dr Cipriano spoke about her presidency, which began nearly two years ago, and her goals to help nurses keep safe, get through the pandemic, and look to the future by defining what would be needed in a post-pandemic world.
She spoke about achieving the prioritisation of nurses for vaccines and more generally about vaccine equity, and about how ICN is working with other organisations to deliver the goals of the World Health Organization’s latest five-year nursing strategy.
Dr Cipriano said governments and employers need to invest heavily in the global nursing workforce if they are to achieve the strong, resilient, safe and affordable health care systems that populations deserve. The interview concluded with Dr Cipriano passing on her thanks on behalf of ICN to all the world’s nurses for their efforts, their courage and their compassion.
“Their willingness to put themselves in harm’s way is unmatched in any profession, so I want to say thank you to all the nurses who give themselves so selflessly every day to take care of others, sometimes at great personal risk. But also to say, there is hope.
‘We are working to protect them and get the global support and investments that are needed to help them have the right working conditions, better pay, better protection from risks, and elevate their voice and input so that they are part of the decision making for change in health care.”
ICN launched the Charter for Change on International Nurses Day, 12 May 2023, under the theme “Our Nurses. Our Future.” – a campaign which will continue throughout the year to emphasize the need to value, protect, respect and invest in nurses, year-round, for a healthier future for all.
Download the communique here