WHO reinstates chief nurse post after seven-year absence

Cook Islands secretary of state for health Elizabeth Iro has been named the World Health Organization’s new chief nursing officer.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has appointed the Cook Islands secretary of state for health as its new chief nursing officer.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus with Elizabeth Iro. Picture: The Ministry of Health, Cook Islands/Facebook

Elizabeth Iro has 30 years’ experience in public health and has served as the country’s chief nurse, as well as its acting director of hospital health service.

She was also a staff nurse, midwife and charge midwife at hospitals in the Cook Islands and New Zealand.

Critical role

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus promised to reinstate the chief nursing officer post, abolished in 2010, when he was appointed in July this year.

Following Ms Iro’s appointment, he said: ‘Nurses play a critical role not only in delivering healthcare to millions around the world, but also in transforming health policies, promoting health in communities and supporting patients and families.

‘Nurses are central to achieving universal health coverage and the sustainable development goals. Ms Iro will keep that perspective front and centre at WHO.’


The appointment has been welcomed by the International Council of Nurses (ICN), whose president Annette Kennedy said: ‘ICN has met with Dr Tedros several times in the past few months to lobby for this position. He clearly recognises the value of nurses and has followed through on his promises.’

Lord Nigel Crisp, chair of the Nursing Now campaign to raise the profile of nursing globally, which is due to launch officially in January, added: ‘This appointment is a great boost for nursing and for everyone working to improve health across the world.

‘Those of us who are optimistic about the future of global health know that we must recognise the value of nursing.’

Read more

In other news

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.