The President comments: ‘Speaking for NZ nursing at a time of global change’


First published in Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand, June 2017. Reposted with permission.

I’M WRITING these words during a break from packing. Tomorrow, I board a plane for Barcelona, Spain, where I will join kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku and chief executive Memo Musa, as part of NZNO’s delegation to the International Council of Nurses’ (ICN) biennial conference.

For the next 10 days, our job is to speak up for New Zealand nursing at a time of global change. ICN represents millions of nurses in 130 countries and brings the nursing voice to the world stage.

The first three days in Barcelona are taken up with the Council of National Representatives (CNR), where National Nursing Associations (NNAs) including NZNO will vote on proposals to reshape ICN.

ICN is governed by a board of representatives elected from seven areas. In our area, the Asia-Pacific region, the smaller countries of the Pacific have struggled to get our Pacific nursing voice heard at the top table.

In Barcelona, we’re voting on a proposal to redraw the boundaries so ICN areas match those of the World Health Organization. This would place New Zealand in a new Western Pacific region and strengthen the Pacific nursing voice.

We are also proud to support our kaiwhakahaere’s bid to bring a Pacific voice to the table. At CNR, Kerri is standing for election to the ICN board.

After CNR comes the ICN Congress – the largest international event for nurses. There we’ll be joined by other NZNO members and staff, as we take New Zealand perspectives on nursing to the world.

Kerri is presenting examples of how we have contributed to policy and legislative change to improve advanced nursing practice, eg medicines management and nurse prescribing.

I am taking part in a panel discussion on how globalisation is impacting on nursing internationally, and how NNAs and ICN should respond.

Globalisation’s impact is being felt in seven main areas: workforce mobility, immigration and recruitment practices, technology and telehealth, population displacement and climate change, workforce development and regulation, trade and investment agreements and in the influence of ICN and member NNAs.

Grow local workforce

New Zealand has the highest dependence on migrant health professionals of any OECD country. NZNO supports the right to freedom of movement, and supports IQNs having secure work visas and supportive work environments. At the same time, we must reduce our dependence on migrant nurses by growing our locally educated nursing workforce, with a supported entry-to-practice place for every new graduate.

Technology and telehealth transcend borders and are increasingly impacting on nurses and models of care. Our position statement contains pointers on how NNAs might respond.

NZNO recognises that climate change and population displacement due to conflict and natural disasters are putting pressure on health systems in many parts of the world, including the South Pacific. Nurses should lead the global transition away from carbon-based economies and contribute to plans to mitigate the impact of climate change on health.

The influence of NNAs and other health sector organisations has been key to halting harmful trade and investment agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). Recent attempts to revive the TPPA and other challenges of globalisation show why international collaboration by nurses at forums like ICN is so important. •


1) New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO). (2017). Internationally Qualified Nurses: immigration and other issues (discussion document). Wellington: Author.
2) NZNO. (2016). Position Statement: Nursing, technology and telehealth. Wellington: Author.
3) NZNO. (2016) Position Statement: Climate Change. Wellington: Author.

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