ICN Report 74th World Health Assembly
At this year’s virtual World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO Global Strategic Directions for Nursing and Midwifery 2021-2025 were adopted on the floor of the Assembly for the first time. This was a significant moment because it reflected a recognition of the essential contribution of our professions to the current pandemic and to the state of global health and healthcare.
Nurses have shown their extraordinary courage, compassion, competence, skill and leadership in this terrible pandemic and have never lost sight of the patients who need their help, care and support and the world has taken notice.
But the truth is that the whole world went into the pandemic unprepared and, tragically, nurses and other health and care
workers had to care for patients with a deadly virus without adequate protection or support. Nurses and other healthcare workers have paid a heavy price with hundreds of thousands becoming ill and more than 115,000 losing their lives to the virus. Governments and employers have a duty of care to their employees: this must never be allowed to happen again.
It is now vital that nursing associations and all nurses hold their governments to account to ensure that WHO’s global nursing and midwifery strategy is implemented, and that every country develops strong resilient health systems to meet the demands of everyday healthcare and national and international health emergencies. This requires countries to invest in nurses and nursing and means they must work in partnership with nurses in all areas of health care policy so that the lessons of this terrible pandemic, and the sacrifices of nurses and healthcare workers, will not have been in vain.
I would like to thank all the members of ICN’s delegation, who made the interventions included in this report and ensured that the voice of the global nursing family was heard by all WHO Member States during the Assembly.
I commend this report to you: it shows that nurses are influencing health and care policy at the global level, and that ICN is leading the way in helping to shape how they are doing so.
ICN President Annette Kennedy
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