February Update: ICN and WHO

This week I received the first newsletter for the 2021 International Council of Nurses (ICN) virtual congress taking place in November. This congress promises to be a highly relevant one for these times with the theme of “Nursing Around the World” using a virtual format that will increase access to the event.

Abstracts are due by March 11, 2021 for e-posters and oral concurrent sessions on eight sub-themes.  Sub-themes include Nursing Workforce, Epidemics & Pandemics, Global Health Challenges, and Digital Health & Innovation. The concurrent sessions will be 10-minute pre-recorded video presentations grouped by sub-theme.

Having attended past ICN congresses – in Barcelona, Durban, Singapore, and Vancouver – I can attest to the value of meeting nurses from around the world, listening to their presentations, and learning about policy advocacy to apply to my own work. Along with colleagues, I have submitted abstracts and been part of presentations. And sometimes an encounter at a congress has led to later collaboration and exchanges.

Global Vaccine Equity

Throughout the pandemic ICN has been vocal on the behalf of nurses and health workers globally and is supporting the current WHO campaign on vaccine equity in the first months of 2021, the Year of the Health and Care Worker.

The WHO Declaration calls on “global, national and local leaders to accelerate the equitable rollout of vaccines in every country, starting with health workers and those at highest risk for COVID-19. This includes scaling up vaccine manufacturing and rejecting vaccine nationalism at every turn.”

WHO urges world leaders to increase contributions to the COVAX facility and also calls on Ministries of Health “to work with WHO and others to invest in and prepare their primary health care systems for distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to their health workers.” Further, as is expressed often these days, distribution of vaccines quickly and equitably will be key to ending the pandemic. Individuals and organizations can lend their support by signing the declaration and by getting messages out through social media. #VaccinEquity

By Nora Whyte – February 18, 2021

I acknowledge with respect that I live on the Unceded traditional territory of the K’òmoks First Nation.

The Privilege of Membership

This is the time of year when membership fees are due and the reminders start rolling in. It is a time when I consider whether or not to renew my membership in various organizations and what commitments I’ll make in the year ahead. In particular at the start of 2021, I have been thinking about the privilege of membership in the Canadian Nurses Association.

As noted on its website, the Canadian Nursing Association (CNA) is “the national and global voice of Canadian nursing, working with nurses in all 13 jurisdictions across Canada to bring essential and meaningful change to health care and nursing in the country.” Membership is open to all regulated nurses who may join as individuals or through their membership in provincial and territorial associations in jurisdictions that are CNA members. Major changes in jurisdictional nursing organizations across Canada will continue to have an impact on national membership. For the first time, I will be taking out an individual membership because the annual membership fee in my provincial association, the Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of British Columbia (NNPBC), no longer includes CNA membership. I remain supportive of NNPBC and CNA and hope that we’ll see new membership models and fee structures in the coming years. Membership in CNA is a vital link to our dynamic global nursing body, the International Council of Nurses.

During the summer and fall of 2020, CNA conducted a member survey to build on dialogue and engagement sessions conducted in 2019 & 2020. For a good overview of survey results, see Your Voice, Your Association.  

Survey respondents viewed CNA in a favourable way with 81% noting that a national professional association is essential.  Communication is key to engagement and three preferred methods are: direct email, social media & webinars. Ideas for building a strong and effective association include:

  • Engage with membership on a grassroots level
  • Offer more mental health resources
  • Offer more continuing education opportunities
  • Forge strong partnerships with provincial and territorial associations

Highlights of the past year – shaped so dramatically and sadly by the pandemic – were linked to my longtime interest in professional associations and their role in policy advocacy clearly in evidence during 2020. It was satisfying to be a co-author with stellar colleagues, Patrick Chiu and Susan Duncan, on an article published in the Canadian Journal of Nursing Research:  

Charting a Research Agenda for the Advancement of Nursing Organizations’ Influence on Health Systems and Policy – Patrick Chiu, Susan Duncan, Nora Whyte, 2020 (sagepub.com)

In our abstract we indicate how we drew on “recent key national and global events including our systematic inquiry into Canada’s 2019 federal election, the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, and the Coronavirus pandemic to examine how Canadian nursing organizations respond in highly complex and evolving contexts.” Further, we used our observations to offer a vision and chart a research agenda for the advancement of nursing organizations’ influence on health systems and policy.

Another highlight that took place at the end of 2020 was receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from NNPBC at a wonderful virtual 2020 Nursing Awards of Excellence Ceremony featuring music, dance, videos, and special messages from CNA and others. It was an emotional and proud moment to be among the group of BC nurses recognized for contributions to the profession in our province.  

Award from NNPBC – December 2020

I look forward to staying connected to nursing’s collective presence and voice provincially, nationally, and globally in 2021.

By Nora Whyte – January 19, 2021

I acknowledge with respect that I live on the Unceded traditional territory of the K’òmoks First Nation.

Postscript: February 21, 2021

For nurses from BC, the process of membership renewal in CNA was delayed at the start of this year. I was unable to renew in January as planned. Glad to see that the membership portal is working now and that we can renew or rejoin as BC registrants or retired members. Annual membership gives us access to the Canadian Nurse and opportunities to participate in our national association and the ICN. In fact, to submit an abstract (as first author) for the ICN Congress in November, one must belong to a National Nursing Association. I’m thankful that CNA is a member of ICN and that’s one of my primary reasons for renewing my CNA membership.

Nursing the World to Health

I am writing this post as National Nursing Week in Canada draws to a close. It has been a strange time of celebration mixed with sadness at the losses experienced globally and the ongoing concern about the health of populations and the long road to recovery.

During this Nursing Week, I found that our Canadian nursing leaders reflected what many of us have been thinking about our profession during the time of COVID. I greatly appreciated reading CNA President Claire Betker’s editorial in the Canadian Nurse: On the importance of nurses in 2020. Claire highlighted the opportunity to raise the profile of the profession during the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife and demonstrated the many ways in which Canadian nurses have made an impact.

International Nurses Day was celebrated globally on May 12, the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. This year’s theme, Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Nursing the World to Health captured both the spirit and the urgency of nursing’s vital global role. The International Council of Nurses provided excellent resources on its International Nurses Day site and was highly visible in media interviews and in generating social media energy. ICN’s CEO Howard Catton tweeted: “Let our celebrations be a clarion call for real commitments to actions and investments to support nurses to do the work that the world desperately needs them to do.” Annette Kennedy, ICN President, expressed her appreciation to the global nursing community and held a great video conversation with Dr. Tedros on May 12. It’s worth viewing and reflecting on their messages!

This week also provided opportunities to profile the State of the World’s Nursing 2020 Report, released in April 2020 and now gaining attention. This landmark publication has highlighted the urgent need for acceleration of nursing education, job creation and leadership. The report’s call to strengthen nursing leadership is “to ensure that nurses have an influential role in health policy formulation and decision-making, and contribute to the effectiveness of health and social care systems” (WHO, 2020).

Nursing Week 2020 has played out in a vastly different way than anticipated; however, there is no doubt that the theme of “Nursing the World to Health” is more important than ever as we face the remainder of 2020 using a professional, powerful and collective voice to lead.

By Nora Whyte – May 15, 2020

Launching New Projects in the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife

Highlights of 2019

Delegates at ICN Congress in Singapore

It was a banner year of professional highlights topped by participating in the International Council of Nurses Congress in Singapore where I presented a poster with Susan Duncan and met other delegates from many countries. Also in Singapore it was a great pleasure to reconnect with the team from the Canadian Nurses Association and other Canadian delegates representing nursing education, unions, professional associations and regulators. Susan Duncan and I wrote post-ICN reflections in blog posts and have appreciated the positive comments in response.

Susan Duncan and Nora Whyte in Singapore – June 2019
UBC Gala – May 2019

Other highlights included celebrating the Centenary of the UBC School of Nursing throughout 2019 by attending a beautiful gala in May and the inaugural Verna Huffman Splane Public Health Nursing Lecture in September. Both events provided opportunities to honour those who have contributed to the profession, to meet colleagues and to build on the legacy of earlier generations of leaders

Looking Ahead

The International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife has launched and will be a focus of global attention and action throughout 2020. Barbara Stilwell, executive director of Nursing Now, has written an excellent overview in Off the Charts – the blog of the American Journal of Nursing – in which she notes the current challenge of a global workforce crisis, the vital role of nurses and midwives in contributing to universal health coverage and new opportunities to raise the visibility of nursing and midwifery during 2020. Read her post here and visit the Nursing Now site for updates.

My own 2020 projects include:

  • Involvement with the Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC (NNPBC). I have signed up for NNPBC’s Ambassador Program and look forward to contributing to our professional association in British Columbia through an exciting new phase of activity getting underway this year.
  • Continuation of writing projects with colleagues including blog posts on policy themes.
  • Contract work with the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council Nursing Department to update nursing policies in preparation for accreditation this year.

As we move into the first month of 2020, I remain committed to my local and global involvement and will follow events with interest in what promises to be an outstanding moment for our profession.

By Nora Whyte – January 7, 2020

Twitter: @NoraBWhyte

Nursing Now: Ready for 2020

Nursing Now launched in 2018 as a global collaboration among the Burdett Trust for Nursing, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and the World Health Organization (WHO). I have been following developments and have used this Blog to share highlights and links to updates from time to time.

On the cusp of 2020, Nursing Now is perfectly positioned to play a leadership role during the 2020 Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. Events and celebrations are planned throughout the year. In their most recent update (November 2019), the Nursing Now campaign team stated: “During 2020, we are united in our ambition to propel nursing and midwifery into the spotlight and onto the agenda of governments, with the ultimate goal of improving health globally.”

As Nursing Now has gained momentum, I have been pleased to note the connection to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There’s increasing recognition that nurses and midwives are contributing to the SDGs and are absolutely vital to delivering Universal Health Coverage by 2030.

A new aspect of Nursing Now announced during the ICN Congress in Singapore in June is the Nightingale Challenge currently being promoted as a key leadership development strategy for 2020 and beyond:

The Challenge is asking every health employer around the world to provide leadership and development training for a group of their young nurses and midwives during 2020, the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, to support them as practitioners, and enhance their skills as advocates and leaders in health.

Nursing Now Canada launched in 2019 with plans for national initiatives in three ‘pillars’ as outlined in its June 3, 2019 media release:

  • Nursing Leadership pillar – to establish a hub to educate, empower and support regulated nurses to lead, advocate, innovate, influence public policy and create sustainable change in health.
  • Chief Nursing Officer pillar – to establish federal, provincial and territorial chief nursing officers in leadership positions within ministries of health.
  • Indigenous pillar – to support nurses and midwives in providing culturally safe care and to strengthen the power of Indigenous nurses.

The Canadian Nurses Association is the official link for Canadian nurses to the global Nursing Now campaign and is carrying out this three-point action plan in partnership with the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association and Indigenous Services Canada.

From here at home to events on the world stage, communities of nurses and midwives will be joining their colleagues and supporters in celebrating the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife in 2020.

Update November 23, 2019

It was a delight to read an editorial published in The Lancet today (Volume 394) entitled 2020: unleashing the full potential of nursing and drawing attention to Nursing Now and the Nightingale Challenge. The editorial makes the case for enhancing nursing to enhance health and looks to the opportunity of 2020 “to showcase the evidence and impact of what nurses and midwives do, and to ensure that they are enabled, resources and supported to meet the world’s health needs.” Thanks to The Lancet for this timely editorial and the social media interest it is generating.

By Nora Whyte – November 21, 2019


Summer 2019 Reflections

The highlight of this summer was the opportunity to be part of a global gathering of 5,300 nurses at the International Council of Nurses Congress in Singapore from June 27 to July 1. Hosted by the Singapore Nurses Association, it was truly a banner event: well-organized in every aspect and with a warm welcome from local volunteers as delegates arrived each day.

Welcome from Singapore Nurses Association at Opening Ceremony.
Photo Credit: ICN

Susan Duncan and I have written a summary of our experiences in a post on the University of Victoria School of Nursing Blog: ICN Singapore Congress – Reflections for Canadian Nursing: Onward to 2020.

We describe recent ICN initiatives including the partnership with Nursing Now and the exciting launch of the Nightingale Challenge. We reflect on the dynamic presence of the World Health Organization throughout the Congress and the increasing recognition of the vital role of nurses in achieving the WHO goal of Universal Health Coverage. The designation by WHO of 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife presents a great opportunity for participation in decision-making bodies and in events including the World Health Assembly next year.

ICN President Annette Kennedy.
Photo credit: ICN

Other highlights included meeting delegates from many countries during receptions, lunches, poster sessions and policy cafés.  We reconnected with colleagues from our national organizations and enjoyed encounters with Canadian students and early career nurses.

Canadian Nurses Association President Claire Betker

For further details on the 2019 Congress and to view presentation slides, photos and speaker profiles, see the archives here.

Onward to 2020!

Trinidad & Tobago Registered Nurses Association.
Photo credit: ICN

Posted by Nora Whyte – August 25, 2019

ICN Congress: Beyond Healthcare to Health

Courtesy of ICN

The International Council of Nurses 2019 Congress is set to begin on June 27 in Singapore. It promises to be a banner event with a strong focus on global health and nursing issues. I am looking forward to attending once again and to stimulating sessions on universal health coverage, primary health care and other policy topics.  

In particular I will be interested in an update on the Nursing Now campaign, launched in 2018 and growing into a social movement to advance nursing and midwifery in many countries. There will be updates on ICN’s recent initiatives and networking opportunities for participants as well as exhibits and poster sessions. Susan Duncan and I are presenting a poster, Launching a Global Inquiry into Nursing Organizations’ Points of Policy Influence: Key Questions. We intend to connect with nurses in other countries to learn about their strategies to influence health and public policy issues and to determine interest in ongoing collaboration. We will write an ICN summary report when we return to Canada.

Posted by Nora Whyte – June 18, 2019


International Nurses Day 2019

In advance of International Nurses Day on May 12, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) has produced a new publication for this year’s campaign: Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Health for All. Case studies and photographs from different countries are woven into the document adding rich examples of nursing’s voice to lead in the current era. See the International Nurses Day Resource page to download the full document or to view online.

2019 IND Theme – Credit: ICN

The introductory message from ICN President Annette Kennedy provides inspiration on this year’s theme of Health for All. She describes nursing advocacy for improved health and health services in communities and at the level of the United Nations General Assembly.  She notes that the “time is ripe for nurses to assert their leadership” and concludes by stating “…nursing has vast potential and value if appropriately harnessed to finally achieve the vision of Health for All.” (ICN 2019, p. 4).

The three-part document begins with a section on Health for All outlining the background of the global health for all movement initiated in 1978 at the Alma Ata conference on primary health care. It presents links from Alma Ata to the current push for universal health coverage. The second section – Global Health Challenges Affecting Health for All – offers an in-depth look at six current and future health challenges and ways in which nurses are contributing to solutions.

I found the third and final section on Leadership to be particularly interesting – linking the historical roots of nursing leadership to a renewed political focus. One case study features a parliamentarian in Malawi who draws on her public health nursing background to make a difference in improving her country’s health system.  A second case study highlights the work of the Nurses on Boards Coalition aimed at having more nurses on boards, panels and commissions where they can bring an effective presence on health-related policy initiative.

I recommend this publication as a great resource to be studied and discussed beyond National Nursing Week in Canada (May 6 to 12). See the ICN and Canadian Nurses Association websites for additional content, posters and ideas.

By Nora Whyte – April 26, 2019


International Council of Nurses 2019: Congress and Policy Advocacy

ICN Congress 2019 Singapore: ‘Beyond Healthcare to Health’

In my October 2018 post, I wrote about plans for the next ICN Congress taking place in Singapore from June 27 to July 1, 2019. The impressive lineup of keynote speakers has been announced this week: presentation topics include primary health care, health economics, nursing workforce, patient perspectives, migration issues and the future of nursing regulation. Also available on the conference website are the preliminary schedule, notice of special events and registration information.

Policy Advocacy

At the start of 2019, ICN continues its global policy advocacy through participation in the World Health Organization’s Executive Board convening in Geneva this month. Policy briefs focus on primary health care as the path to universal health coverage, patient safety and human resources for health. I have appreciated reading the strong statement on universal health coverage calling on “ministries of health, within their national context, to integrate PHC as the foundation of their health systems” (ICN 2019, 5.5:1). The statement on human resources for health highlights the important collaboration of WHO and ICN in the Nursing Now initiative launched in 2018:

“In partnership with ICN and WHO, the launch of Nursing Now has raised the profile of nursing and has highlighted the importance of the need for more well-educated nurses, of investing in recruitment and retention strategies and of removing the barriers to the development of advanced nursing roles that are proving highly effective at expanding healthcare coverage” (ICN 2019, 6.3: 1).

I encourage my Canadian colleagues to follow ICN and Nursing Now as this year promises to be an exciting one for nursing on the global stage.

Update January 31, 2019. During the WHO Executive Board meeting, Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the intention to declare 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife honouring the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale and celebrating the contribution of nursing and midwifery to global health. Watch for more details as plans unfold.

By Nora Whyte – January 25, 2019

Climate Change and Health

 

Moving for Climate Change – Iberdrola members cycled from Vienna to Katowice.
Credit: Iberdrola

The 2018 UN Climate Change Conference known as COP24 wrapped up in Katowice, Poland this month amid an increasing sense of urgency about climate change and how to deal with it. The adoption of a set of operational rules will hold countries to their promises to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

The impact of climate change on human health has become increasingly evident in recent years.  The World Health Organization prepared a special report for COP24 on Health & Climate Change. This report reiterates the value of the Paris Climate Agreement as “a global safeguard for human health” and urges action to strengthen climate resilience. Measures to mitigate climate change have potential to improve health and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. A section of the report focuses on health gains associated with specific mitigation actions in areas including transportation, households & buildings, agriculture and industry. Mobilizing the health sector is a sub-theme of this report: increasing engagement by the “trusted, globally connected” health community in advocacy is both necessary and viewed favourably. Further, the report asserts that governments and civil society organizations have an important opportunity to develop “green, climate-resilient health care facilities”, highlighting examples of low-carbon strategies in hospitals and health facilities (WHO 2018 pp. 42-44).

Health professionals and their organizations are demonstrating support for greater efforts at all levels. Earlier this year, the International Council of Nurses presented a statement to the 71st World Health Assembly on behalf of the World Health Professions Alliance. Entitled Health, environment and climate change, the statement expressed the commitment of its 31 million members to mitigate climate change and called on the WHO to include health professions in policy decisions on global strategies.

Other recent publications are worth reading for their focus on this important topic:

International Council of Nurses (2018) Position Statement: Nurses, climate change and health. See pp. 3-5  for ICN position and recommendations.

Lancet Countdown 2018 Report: Briefing for Canadian Policymakers published in November 2018 by the Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate change in conjunction with the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Public Health Association.

World Health Organization (2018). COP24 Special Report: Health and Climate Change. This link takes you to the report, press release and other supporting material.

By Nora Whyte – December 18, 2018