International Council of Nurses Chief Executive Officer Howard Catton and Valentina Sarkisova from the European Forum of National Nurses and Midwives Association (EFNNMA) urged candidates for the post of WHO Europe Regional Director to make a commitment to appoint a Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) for the region.
The new Regional Director will be nominated at a private meeting in Copenhagen from 16 to 19 September 2019, which Mr Catton and ICN Board member Karen Bjøro will attend. ICN, which lobbied the candidates alongside EFNNMA, believes that nurses are uniquely placed to help resolve the many healthcare challenges that Europe faces.
These include achieving universal health coverage, providing for an ageing population, dealing with the inexorable rise in non-communicable diseases, and coping with limited financial resources, the need for modernisation and the growing shortage of nursing staff.
In a letter to the candidates Mr Catton and Ms Sarkisova said:
‘The need for strategic leadership is greater than ever and a CNO in WHO Europe would be ideally placed to take a lead on these and other matters.’ ICN and EFNNMA received responses from four shortlisted candidates who all confirmed that they would, if successful, appoint a CNO as a matter of course.
Candidates’ responses Clemens Auer, who is currently the Austrian government’s Special Envoy for Health, said he wondered why such a post had not already been established.
‘The world doesn’t need only Chief Medical Officers. We also need CNOs, and if WHO Europe doesn’t have this position, it will get it, immediately after me taking office.’ Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Office for Europe Lead on Health Systems and Public Health, said he would intensify WHO Europe’s efforts to raise the profile of nursing.
‘I commit to establishing a programme on nursing and midwifery, and a post of Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer at WHO Europe.’ Tatul Hakobyan, WHO Representative to the Slovak Republic, said he could answer the question of a CNO for WHO Europe with one sentence:
‘If I am honoured to be elected as Regional Director, within structural changes I plan to have three new appointments in the regional office and those are Technical Director, Chief Scientist and Chief Nurse.’ Nedret Emiroglu, WHO Regional Office for Europe Director of Programme Management, said she is committed to establishing a Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer who will be an integral part of her senior leadership team.
‘Through this function, I aim at ensuring that skilled, multidisciplinary, motivated nurses and midwives are in the right place and in the right number.’ Mr Catton said he was delighted to receive such positive responses, adding:
‘It is gratifying that these candidates recognise the importance of nursing and the need for the appointment of a CNO for the WHO Regional Office for Europe. ‘ICN and EFNNMA look forward to working with the successful candidate to support a newly appointed CNO in their role, and further develop nursing within Europe.’
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