Invest! Innovate! Include!

The WHO Collaborating Centre in Salzburg stood strong for Innovation, better end of life care, and high quality palliative care education at the WHO Regional meeting of Government Chief Nursing Officers, WHO collaborating centres and European Forum of National Nursing and Midwifery Associations in Athens from the 3rd to 4th of October, 2018.

The two-day meeting of CNOs, WHO CCs and EFNNMA was organised by the WHO Regional Office for Europe situated in Copenhagen. Leaders and decision makers from national governments, representatives from nursing and midwifery organisations, practitioners and educators from 53 member states gathered together in order to discuss, why to invest into nurses and midwives, how and why to include nurses and midwives in decision-making, and how to innovate the everyday practise to improve the care for each individual needing care and support.

The meeting was opened by Hans Kluge, who welcomed all participants, and put a strong emphasis on nurses and midwives being the vital resource for health in the WHO European Region. The growing and changing health needs –due to ageing population, economic pressure, migration, and workforce shortage – create health inequalities all over the world; hence, it is essential to look for innovative ideas also in nursing and midwifery to assure that the universal health coverage and health for all goals set by WHO will be met. For this reason, collaboration, networking and mutual support is needed. Similar message emerged from the presentations of all panellists, which made evident that despite disparities in economics and education the problems that need to be tackled are rather similar in the European region.

The WHO CC Centre in Salzburg was present in both days standing strong for inclusion and innovation, in particular, when it comes to taking care of the most vulnerable – people suffering from pain and needing end care. Piret Paal talked about death and dying that is strongly neglected topic among the healthcare professionals. Both nurses and midwives need to acknowledge the importance of well-organised end care paths that put the needs of patients and their carers first. Equally important is to make self-reflection part of everyday practice to avoid burn-out or malpractice, such as hatred and violence in caregiving. Jürgen Osterbrink demonstrated how simple innovations, such as PainApp or InTherAKT may improve the communication and patient safety and well-being. He encouraged looking for innovation and local solutions as long as the global best practise models are missing. Direct feedback to both presentations can be found following the hashtag #WHOCNO2018.

The participants warmly welcomed the new Programme Manager, Gabrielle Jacobs from Ireland, and expressed their warmest gratitude to the previous Programme Manager, Galina Perfilieva, who has been leading and strengthening the network for many years.

It was a great pleasure to hear that negotiations to nominate new collaborating centres are successfully evolving. It is evident that each WHO CC with their unique assignments and know-how helps to strengthen the nursing and midwifery as a profession that improves people’s health and well-being.