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Investment in nurses is key to achieving universal healthcare – ICN

ICN president Annette Kennedy says investing in nurses is an economic imperative

ICN president Annette Kennedy says investing in nurses is an economic imperative


International Council of Nurses president Annette Kennedy. Picture: ICN

Invest in nurses and you are investing in a healthy economy, says the president of the International Council of Nurses (ICN).

Speaking to RCNi at ICN congress in Singapore, Annette Kennedy called for better recognition of home-life pressures faced by nurses worldwide.

A healthy population is economically active

‘If you do not invest in nurses you will never achieve quality, universal healthcare,' she said.

'If you do not invest in healthcare you will never have a healthy population and you will never have a healthy economy.

‘Unless we decide there is a value in the work done in the home and include that in the gross domestic product we will never have equality’

‘Keeping someone healthy means they can contribute to the family, contribute to society, work and buy products, and so that leads to a healthy economy.

‘There is always talk about the cost of healthcare, but never about investment in healthcare is an investment in the economy – that is what we would like to see.’

Gender inequality

Ms Kennedy highlighted the issue of gender equality, and that the mainly female global nursing workforce has to balance work with responsibility for caring for children and older relatives.

‘Unless we decide there is a value in the work done in the home and include that in the gross domestic product we will never have equality,’ she added.

‘If you talk about health promotion and prevention early enough it will go a long way to prevent people ending up in hospital’

Recurring themes in the Singapore gathering included recruitment and retention, violence against nurses, promotion of gender equality and efforts to get more nurses into policy decision-making roles.

Ms Kennedy said nurses worldwide had a key role to play in tackling the 'new pandemic’ of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory conditions, cancers and mental ill health.

Nurse leadership in primary care

She believes there is huge potential for specialist nurse-led clinics.

‘In Togo in west Africa there was a big problem with diabetes, to the extent they had a high proportion of people with amputations. So, they brought nurses into the community in specialist roles and set up clinics, and they have seen a dramatic reduction in the number of patients with the complications of diabetes. That is only one example – there are so many throughout the world.

'If you talk about health promotion and disease prevention early enough it will go a long way to prevent people developing complications and ending up in hospital.’


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