Strengthening nursing and midwifery expertise in the WHO European Region

WHO

In conjunction with the Latvian presidency in the EU, the WHO Regional Office for Europe hosted the 3rd biannual meeting of the region's government chief nursing officers (CNOs), national nursing and midwifery associations and WHO collaborating centres on Nursing and Midwifery from 8–9 April in Riga, Latvia. The meeting was held to review progress and provided an opportunity to discuss the role of nurses and midwives in transforming health service delivery towards people-centred health systems for improved health outcomes. It was also an opportunity to finalize the European strategic directions for strengthening nursing and midwifery towards Health 2020 goals (ESDNM) and the accompanying new European compendium of good practices. 

 Priority areas for nursing and midwifery

The priority areas for the region, identified by the participants, were to transform and scale up education; increase nursing and midwifery research; optimize skill mix; ensure positive work environments, and promote life-long learning and evidence-based practice towards innovative and people-centred health systems. Conversations revolved around the role of regulation, research, partnerships, management and leadership in enabling these priority areas. 

The meeting marks one of the largest gatherings of nursing and midwifery stakeholders in the region and resulted in: 

  • region-wide consensus on the document European strategic directions for strengthening nursing and midwifery towards Health 2020 goals, which will be launched at the next Regional Committee in Vilnius, Lithuania in September 2015;
  • an increased understanding of the role of nurses and midwives in transforming health service delivery towards people-centred health systems; 
  • endorsement of the European compendium of good practices, a collection of 55 case studies from across the region, as a valuable resource to improve health and well-being of the population and to recognize the contribution of the professions; and 
  • direction on the Regional Office's action plan towards 2017 and beyond. 

Creating valuable resources for Member States 

The Regional Office, working in collaboration with Member States and WHO collaborating centres, have been developing two key documents to guide Member States in enabling and enhancing the contribution of the nursing and midwifery workforce to support Health 2020 implementation. European strategic directions for strengthening nursing and midwifery towards Health 2020 goals (ESDNM) and the European compendium of good practices in nursing and midwifery towards Health 2020, have been developed to demonstrate and promote examples of value-added nursing and midwifery interventions in addressing people's health needs in the WHO European Region. 

Background

Nurses and midwives make up the largest part of the health workforce of the WHO European Region and are central to efforts to improve health outcomes. Health 2020, the new European health policy framework, has recognized the key role they play in society's efforts to tackle the public health challenges of our time in ensuring the continuity of care and addressing people's rights and changing needs. The WHO Regional Office has been working closely with government representatives and  members of nursing and midwifery professional associations to strengthen nursing and midwifery in the region. Expertise has been further strengthened through collaboration with a growing network of WHO collaborating centres.