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“ICN congratulates Mrs Iro on her appointment to this key position.We are delighted that Dr Tedros has been true to his word andreinstated the role of Chief Nurse at WHO,” said Annette Kennedy, ICN President. “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.”
“I am thrilled to welcome Ms Iro to our team as WHO’s Chief Nursing Officer,” said Dr Tedros. “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.” At the ICN Congress in Barcelona in May 2017, Dr Tedros told the audience of over 8,000 nurses, “I promise to keep my pledge of having a senior level staff person representing the nursing community to represent your voice at the WHO headquarters.”
Recognising the critical role of nurses in the achievement of universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals, ICN welcomes this announcement as good news for patients, populations and improved health care around the world. As the largest group of health professionals in the world, nursing is critical to the achievement of WHO’s priorities and overcoming the health challenges the world is facing. The reinstatement of the key role of Chief Nurse is important to ensure quality nursing care for all and sound health policies globally. It will support ICN’s strategic intent to influence health, social, economic and educational policy, as well as to advance the nursing profession and its contribution to people’s health.
Mrs Elizabeth Iro has served as President of the Cook Islands Nurses Association, a member of ICN. She has also served as Health Secretary for the Cook Islands since 2012 and is the former Cook Islands Chief Nursing Officer.
Accepting the position, Mrs Iro said, “I am very honoured and humbled with this announcement today...I think this appointment is going to be raising the profile of nursing and midwifery and I anticipate it will be encouraging and enabling for nurse to work to their full potential if countries are to achieve universal health coverage, “
This appointment is the latest addition to the senior leadership team Dr Tedros announced last week, which includes representatives from every WHO region and is 60% women. It came at the 68th session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, taking place from 9 to 13 October 2017 in Brisbane, Australia.
ICN will continue to work closely with WHO to ensure that nurses have a chair at the policy making table. ICN looks forward to working closely with the WHO Chief Nurse and Director General to support their work and represent the global nursing voice.

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