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Nurses, midwife challenges highlighted in conference

Nursery and midwifery challenges and the leadership capacity of these disciplines must be strengthened at a national, regional and international level.

This was highlighted by participants of the inaugural Pacific Heads of Nursing & Midwifery Meeting (PHoNM) held in Nadi, Fiji from February 11-14. 

According to a statement issued by Pacific Community (S.P.C.), a total of 13 Pacific Island countries and territories attended the regional conference alongside nursing stakeholders and regional and international partners.

Some key areas discussed for nursing and midwifery workforce in the region included: mobility of workforce between countries especially during health emergencies; primary health care and universal health coverage, nursing education and nursing regulation.

The Chair for the PHoNM and Head Nurse of the Moorea Hospital in French Polynesia, Lys Nguyen, said that nurses are the heartbeat of the communities and workforce.

“We work for the people and we are finally coming together as a unified voice to face up to the challenges of Sustainable Development Goals and health,” she added.

In some Pacific Island Countries and Territories, nurses and midwives make up 75 per cent of the health workforce and are usually the first responders during an emergency event. 

Nurses and midwives play an important role in primary health care and universal health coverage. 

Mabel Taoi, Project Coordinator for Clinical Services Program at the Pacific Community's Public Health Division said that the meeting is a milestone for the region.

“There was no forum for nurses and midwives but now we have a way to influence and drive health priorities and policies in the region.”

The PHoNM meeting is an acknowledgement of the importance of nursing in the Pacific region. It provides an equal platform with the Directors of Clinical Services (D.C.S.) and the Directors of Public Health (D.P.H.) meetings.

Recommendations from the inaugural PHoNM will be presented at the upcoming Heads of Health Meeting in April this year.

The PHoNM meeting was organised by S.P.C. with assistance from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (D.F.A.T.) and other key partners including Australian College operating Room Nurses (ACORN), International College of Nurses (ICN), New Zealand Medical Treatment Scheme (NZMTS), Nursing Now, Royal Australian College of Surgeons Pacific Islands Program, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (U.N.AIDS), United Nations Children's Fund (U.N.I.C.E.F.), World Bank and World Health Organisation.

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