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Geneva, Switzerland & Beijing, China; 23 December 2016 – Participants of the 17th International Council of Nurses (ICN) Asia Workforce Forum, held 14-15 November 2016, have released a communiqué urging National Nurses Associations (NNAs) and governments globally to implement the recommendations of the United Nations (UN) High-level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth (HEEG).
Discussions between NNA representatives from 10 countries1 of the Asia region centred on the need for political leaders to view healthcare as a valuable and beneficial investment instead of a drain on economies, echoing the ICN Workforce Forum held in Washington earlier this year.
Adequate funding towards ensuring safer staffing and the expansion of educational opportunities were identified as the main means to strengthen and retain a currently overworked, undervalued and rapidly shrinking workforce.
Concrete targets to reform healthcare financing emerged through the common and persistent issues faced by many countries and regions of Asia, including the lack of professional development schemes, low wages and concerning nurse-patient ratios.
“ICN’s Workforce Forums clearly show that different regions of the world are all identifying similar workforce issues, such as nursing shortages, inadequate staffing levels and poor working conditions, as major concerns impacting on both the recruitment and retention of nurses, said Dr Frances Hughes, ICN’s Chief Executive Officer. “There is no doubt we are facing a global shortage of nurses and urgently need a change in political thinking to support investment in both nursing and healthcare.”
At the close of the Forum, nurse leaders demanded government-backed support for and investment in the profession, along with political recognition of the benefits of a strong healthcare workforce as a driver of social and financial development for nations.
They emphasised that sustainable health systems could only be attained through raised skills and profile; a conclusion reiterated by international heads of states through binding commitments during the High-Level Ministerial Meeting on Health Employment and Economic Growth held recently in Geneva.
The Communiqué of the 2016 ICN Asian Workforce Forum can be accessed here: http://www.icn.ch/what-we-do/icn-asia-workforce-forum/
The ICN Workforce Forums (WFF) are held annually and hosted by volunteer member NNAs. In addition to the Asian WFF, ICN holds an annual International WFF. More information can be found on www.icn.ch/what-we-do/icn-workforce-forums/
More information on the work and recommendations of the UN High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth on the ICN website: http://www.icn.ch/what-we-do/un-commission-on-health-employment-and-economic-growth/ and on the World Health Organization website: http://www.who.int/hrh/com-heeg/en/

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