WHO gains new Chief Nurse
Mrs Elizabeth Iro from the Cook Islands Ministry of Health has been appointed as the new Chief Nurse for the World Health Organization (WHO), announced today during the Sixty-Eighth Session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific by the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
As Health Secretary for the Cook Islands since 2012 and former Cook Islands Chief Nursing Officer, Mrs Iro has worked to meet the health needs of the people of the Cook Islands and the Pacific since graduating as a nurse in 1981 and midwife in 1986.
She has been a close colleague and friend of the WHO CC UTS and a long-standing member of the South Pacific Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officers Alliance (SPCNMOA) since its inception in 2004 in the Cook Islands. The WHO CC UTS acts as Secretariat for the SPCNMOA which aims to enhance nursing and midwifery effectiveness through promoting and improving population health in the region.
"I am very honoured and humbled with this announcement today,” said Mrs Iro.
“This appointment is going to be raising [sic] the profile of nursing and midwifery. I anticipate it will be encouraging and enabling for nurses and midwives to work to their full potential if countries are to achieve university health coverage (UHC).”
Mrs Iro also acknowledged that nurses and midwives constitute over 50% of the global health workforce and therefore will play a key role in achieving university health coverage.
The position of Chief Nurse at WHO has been vacant since 2010. The reinstatement of this position and the appointment of Mrs Iro indicates the value that the new WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros, places on the nursing and midwifery professions within this organisation.
Ms Michele Rumsey, WHO CC UTS Director, explained the importance of the reinstatement of this globally significant role and the close connections between the WHO CC UTS and Mrs Iro.
“We have worked with Mrs Iro for many years since the formation of the SPCNMOA, and it is a great honour to have a senior nursing and midwifery leader from the Pacific appointed to this important position at WHO. ” said Ms Rumsey.
Head of the WHO CC UTS and Dean of Faculty of Health at UTS Professor John Daly said “It is an extremely positive development for nursing and midwifery globally to have this position reinstated at WHO in Geneva. It demonstrates the importance and respect that Dr Tedros associates with the professions of nursing and midwifery for WHO.”