WHO chief nurse departs role after five years – Nursing Times

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09 December, 2022 By
The chief nursing officer at the World Health Organization (WHO), Elizabeth Iro, has departed after five years in post.
Ms Iro’s term in office came to an end at the end of November and while it is yet to be confirmed when she will be replaced, or who this will be, it is understood that the chief nurse position will remain.
“Her service and contributions to nursing are exemplary”
Pamela Cipriano
WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is about to enter his second term in office after being re-elected earlier this year, had appointed Ms Iro to the role of CNO in October 2017 after a seven-year absence of the post.
Ms Iro led the WHO through its very first State of the World’s Nursing report in 2020, and saw the designation of the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife in the same year.
As the world’s most senior nurse during the global coronavirus pandemic, Ms Iro also supported the development of the WHO Global Strategic Directions for Nursing and Midwifery for 2021-25.
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International Council of Nurses (ICN) president Dr Pamela Cipriano said her organisation was “so grateful for the work achieved by Elizabeth Iro over the past five years”.
“Elizabeth Iro has shown the critical importance of the role of the WHO chief nurse to raise the voice of nursing and influence health policy by instilling ideas that reinforce person-centred strategies to strengthen health systems and health security,” she added.
“Her service and contributions to nursing are exemplary.”
Dr Cipriano had recently met with Dr Tedros and was assured the chief nurse position would remain.
“We look forward to welcoming and working with her successor,” said Dr Cipriano.
The ICN also wanted to see the WHO “grow nursing leadership and support, not just at WHO headquarters, but in the regional offices as well”, she noted.
“Nurses have been at the frontlines of the Covid-19 response and are essential to pandemic preparedness,” said Dr Cipriano.
“We extend our heartfelt thanks to WHO colleagues who are moving on to new horizons”
WHO spokesperson
“But nursing’s role is as critical at the policy table as it is across care delivery settings.
“WHO’s objectives to strengthen nursing and midwifery cannot be met without a nursing presence at the highest decision-making level.”
When approached by Nursing Times, the WHO could not provide specific information on the next steps for the chief nurse post.
However, a WHO spokesperson said the director-general was considering the future configuration of the senior leadership team and had “asked a number of colleagues to lead divisions on an ad interim basis”.
“We extend our heartfelt thanks to WHO colleagues who are moving on to new horizons and we look forward to continuing to partner with them in advancing health for all,” they added.
Dr Tedros was re-elected to serve a second five-year term as director-general earlier this year and has reportedly been shaking up his senior leadership team.
Nursing Times reached out to Ms Iro for comment.
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