THOUSANDS OF nurses from all over the world converged in Singapore for four days last month, for the biennial Congress of the International Council of Nurses (ICN). (See also p2, 12 and 13).
Chief executive Memo Musa, kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku and I, however, were among about 225 nursing leaders from 85 countries who arrived in Singapore early. Our job was to represent NZNO at the three-day pre-meeting of ICN’s governing body, the Council of National Nursing Association Representatives (CNR).
From its headquarters in Geneva, ICN represents more than 20 million nurses on the world stage, including at the United Nations and in other influential global institutions. Representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank were among the observers at the CNR meeting.
NZNO has been part of ICN since 1912. By joining NZNO, each member automatically becomes a member of ICN, as well.
In Singapore, Kerri and I were proud to receive ICN’s Gold Award for Membership Inclusiveness – international recognition that over 76 percent of the nurses in our country belong to NZNO.
Heading into the CNR meeting, our focus had been on two proposals which would strengthen the governance of ICN and increase its relevance to nurses in the South Pacific.
The first of the CNR proposals on our radar was an amendment to the ICN constitution to clarify the function of the audit and risk committee (ARC), to increase ICN’s transparency and accountability. The ARC was first established, with NZNO’s backing, at the last CNR meeting in 2017. Nuku was selected to serve on it.
CNR delegates also voted to change the way seats on the ICN board are allocated, confirming a decision made at the last CNR meeting.
Delegates in Singapore voted in favour of the constitutional change. This means, among other things, the ARC will now report on ICN’s finances each year to NZNO and all the other NNAs who fund it.
NZNO had persuaded delegates in 2017 that the voice of South Pacific nurses had been unfairly marginalised at ICN board level. We successfully moved a motion to create a Pacific and Eastern Asia sub-region of the Geneva-based organisation.
The vote in Singapore means there will now be a seat reserved for a board member from our region at the next election of the ICN board in 2021.
CNR meetings offer unparalleled opportunities to foster cooperation between nurses from around the world. We held bilateral meetings in Singapore with leaders of the Chinese Nursing Association and American Nurses Association. We articulated our NZNO values and perspectives, as world events bring nurses in our respective countries closer together.
The Canadian Nurses Association requested a meeting to discuss NZNO’s bicultural model, as it strives to respond meaningfully to the report of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on harm inflicted on its indigenous peoples.
The CNR ended with a joint session with Nursing Now, the three-year global campaign to improve health by raising the status and profile of nursing. The WHO, in partnership with Nursing Now, has declared 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife.
Our input into the discussions about Nursing Now and 2020 was to raise the profile of indigenous nursing leaders who have made significant contributions to the profession and health care. This will also guide NZNO’s approach to next year’s celebrations, in collaboration with our national nursing partners.
First published in Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand, July 2019. Re-posted with permission. Photos courtesy of Eseta Finau.