Nurses ‘deserve more than a pat on the back’, ICN congress hears

Four-day conference focusing on challenges for nurses around the globe kicks off in Singapore

Four-day conference focusing on the challenges for nurses around the globe kicks off in Singapore

ICN president Annette Kennedy addresses the congress audience in Sinagpore. Photo: ICN

Greater support for nurses, higher-profile leadership and gender equality were key themes at the opening ceremony of the biggest international nursing conference of the year.

Addressing a packed hall of nurses in Singapore, International Council of Nurses (ICN) president and Irish nurse Annette Kennedy said nurses should capitalise on the World Health Organisation’s designated Year of the Nurse and Midwife and bicentennial celebrations for Florence Nightingale’s birth in 2020 to make a global impact.

‘This is our time. This is our opportunity. Things will only change if we come out of the shadows,’ she said. ‘Nurses save lives.’

ICN chief executive Howard Catton.
Photo: IGN 

‘More than a pat on the back’

Her comments were preceded by a rousing speech from Singapore’s president Halimah Yacob.

Praising the work of nurses, she received rapturous applause from the audience, who cheered as she said: ‘Nurses deserve more than a pat on the back. We must support our nurses in rising to the challenge and seizing new opportunities. I would urge all of you to nurture your nursing workforce.’

She added that a campaign, which included a television drama about nurses, had helped to increase nursing student numbers in Singapore by 30% in five years.  

‘We must continue our efforts and I am certain that other countries have similar examples to share,’ she said.

Former RCN head of policy and international affairs and now ICN chief executive Howard Catton formally opened the conference on Thursday.

Nurses from the Cook Islands at the
opening ceremony. Photo: IGN

 The event, which closes on Monday, is expected to host more than 5,000 nurses from around the world.

Future relationship

Nurses from across the globe paraded in colourful national costumes at the opening ceremony.

The RCN voted to leave the ICN in 2013 in a dispute about membership fees. The college’s future relationship with the ICN was discussed at RCN congress this year.

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