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Howard Catton: Nursing will be a powerhouse for global change in 2018

With a new chief nursing officer at the WHO and the start of the Nursing Now! campaign, 2018 will be a key year for nursing globally, says ICN nursing director Howard Catton. 

With a new chief nursing officer at the WHO and the start of the Nursing Now! campaign, 2018 will be a key year for nursing globally, says ICN nursing director Howard Catton

In 2017, nursing began to move back to where it belongs – at the centre of the global health stage.

Just days after his election in May, new director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr Tedros Adhanom told the 8,000 nurses gathered at the International Council of Nurses (ICN) congress in Barcelona that they were the lynchpin for achieving his priority of universal healthcare. This marked a reawakening to the powerhouse for change that nursing can be.

Authoritative leadership

When Elizabeth Iro takes up her post as WHO chief nursing officer in January 2018, she will provide visible and authoritative nursing leadership and advice across a wide range of WHO activities.

This will be followed by the start of the global Nursing Now! campaign to raise the profile of nursing, and the publication of ICN’s International Nurses Day resource, Nurses: a Voice to lead – Health is a Human Right, showcasing how nurses around the world are increasing access to healthcare.

Nursing voices at the highest level

In May, WHO will also be requesting that governments include nurses as members of their delegations to the World Health Assembly – the world’s highest health policy-setting body.

As we move into 2018, building blocks are being put in place to turn commitments into action, not only in the profession itself, but with the powerful allies and supporters outside nursing and healthcare who are standing beside us and making our case.

We have got here through sheer hard work, and that must not stop in 2018. With no pressure, there’s no progress.


Howard Catton is director, nursing and health policy, International Council of Nurses

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