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RCN urges nurses to help achieve UN’s goals on health and the environment

College marks World Health Day with call to support sustainable development goals   
Pictograph setting out the UN's 17 sustainable development goals

College marks World Health Day with call to support United Nations sustainable development goals

Nurses in the UK have a crucial role to play in helping to achieve international goals to improve health and well-being and protect the environment, an RCN report says.

The document, Leaving No-One Behind , has been launched to coincide with World Health Day on 7 April and highlights nursings key contribution towards the United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals or SDGs for 2030.

The 17 goals, agreed by UN member states in 2015, include ending poverty and hunger, ensuring good health and education for all, empowering women and girls, supporting economic growth and combating climate change.

College marks World Health Day with call to support United Nations’ sustainable development goals

Pictograph setting out the UN's 17 sustainable development goals

Nurses in the UK have a crucial role to play in helping to achieve international goals to improve health and well-being and protect the environment, an RCN report says.

The document, Leaving No-One Behind, has been launched to coincide with World Health Day on 7 April and highlights nursing’s key contribution towards the United Nations’ (UN) sustainable development goals or SDGs for 2030.

The 17 goals, agreed by UN member states in 2015, include ending poverty and hunger, ensuring good health and education for all, empowering women and girls, supporting economic growth and combating climate change.

RCN members reduce waste and help vulnerable groups

RCN president Anne Marie Rafferty said the COVID-19 crisis had highlighted the many strengths of the nursing profession, including promoting wider social change. ‘Throughout the pandemic nursing and midwifery staff around the world have risen to unimaginable challenges and demonstrated skill, expertise, professionalism and extraordinary commitment to putting patients first,’ she said.

Picture of RCN president Anne Marie Rafferty
Anne Marie Rafferty

‘This has demonstrated the significant contributions nurses and midwives are making to tackling some of the most difficult challenges and injustices facing our communities, including poverty, inequality and climate change.’

The report features examples of work by RCN members to reduce waste, reach out to vulnerable groups and address health inequalities.

Nursing education should focus on health inequalities – RCN

The document also highlights the need for government investment in nursing, and calls for a chief nursing officer (CNO) for England to be at the heart of the Department of Health and Social Care (DH).

The report adds that the sustainable development goals should be a key part of nursing education, with an emphasis on health inequalities and social factors that affect people’s health.

UN goals are ‘a powerful tool for us to advocate for our communities’

Professor Rafferty said: ‘This report highlights just some examples of how nurses and midwives are contributing to the SDGs in the UK. The SDGs are a powerful tool for us to advocate for our patients and communities, and a mechanism through which we can demonstrate our impact.’

Commenting on the report’s call for a CNO at the heart of the DH, a spokesperson for the department said: ‘Chief nursing officer Ruth May in NHS England works closely with the department on nursing policies and plays a fundamental role in leading the response to COVID-19.’


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