International impressions

July / August 2017   Comments

I have just returned home from an outstanding International Council of Nurses congress and meetings of the Council of National Nursing Association Representatives . I participated on panels on globalization and displaced populations, presented CNA’s work on medical assistance in dying and facilitated a networking session with rural and remote nurses. My thoughts guiding the writing of this column are an avalanche of reflections on being in the midst of more than 8,000 nurses from 130 countries.

A healthy world is a common goal. Health as a resource for everyday living is something that nurses around the world understand wherever they may live. The discussions about access to health services, the determinants of health, the Sustainable Development Goals and the nursing workforce resonated with all participants.

Issues cross borders. It was sobering to discover that a nurse from Bahrain could not participate as planned on the globalization panel. Travel is restricted for nurses who assisted the sick and wounded during the Arab Spring. Many of these nurses are still in jail, just for doing what is part of our profession. A nurse from Lebanon shared the stresses in her country because of the influx of 1.5 million Syrian refugees who are seeking safety and are in need of services. Polio is reappearing, nurses are working to the brink of exhaustion and Lebanese citizens are experiencing long wait times.

ICN is responsive. The board and staff reiterated their commitment to ensuring that ICN is a member-driven organization. Many new services are in place to support nurses around the globe; one example is the continuing education platform that will be available to all ICN members.

Canadian nurses are leaders and influencers. ICN past president Judith Shamian and past board member Marlene Smadu have been influential in reshaping ICN and ensuring that nursing has a voice at policy tables around the world. The CNA team’s presentations were shining examples of where Canada has led the way, and it was very evident to me that Canadian nurses are well respected.

To be Canadian is to be grateful. Canadian nurses do not experience many of the struggles familiar to other nurses around the globe. Along with the privilege of being a nurse in our country is an obligation as a global citizen to be a neighbour and a colleague and to work with others to achieve health for all people around the world.

Barb Shellian, RN, BN, MN
president@cna-aiic.ca

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