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Senior public health nurses celebrate move onto world stage

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Senior nurses gathered today to celebrate the launch of the World Health Organization collaborating centre at Public Health England.

The move means the chief nurse directorate at the government arm’s length body becomes the first public health nursing and midwifery WHO collaborating centre.

“It will give us the opportunity to further enhance our international standing”

Viv Bennett

There are around 40 collaborating centres on nursing around the world, of which 10 are in Europe. However, the majority of these are involved in research or education providers.

As a result of the designation, which was awarded at the end of last year, Public Health England will be required to implement WHO programmes and activities at country level, and provide technical advice to the global organisation.

Those behind the move said it would provide an opportunity to improve health outcomes across Europe and globally.

It would also strengthen the public health role of the workforce to support the delivery of WHO’s Health 2020 ambitions and the United Nation’s 17 sustainability goals.

PHE chief nurse Professor Viv Bennett, who led the work, hailed the WHO designation as a “significant achievement”.

She said: “It’s a significant achievement and will give us the opportunity to further enhance our international standing and continue promoting public health nursing and midwifery on the international stage.

Viv Bennett

Viv Bennett

Viv Bennett

“Our programme with the WHO will focus on developing prevention in practice, community health and looking into how nurses and midwives can make further contributions to maternal and child health,” she added.

To coincide with International Nurses’ Day, a celebratory event for key stakeholders took place today in London.

It showcased how PHE was currently turning evidence into practice in nursing and midwifery through, for example, through its All Our Health and Best Start in Life programmes.

As well as Professor Bennett, other speakers at the event included chief nursing officer for England Professor Jane Cummings and NHS Improvement executive director of nursing Dr Ruth May.

The centre at PHE has been given the following terms of reference by WHO:

  • To support WHO by generating evidence and defining frameworks of practice for nurses and midwives which prevent avoidable illness, protect health and promote wellbeing and resilience
  • To support WHO by providing information about the nurses’ and midwives’ role and impact on maternal and child health
  • On request of WHO provide policy advice and technical assistance about public health nursing and midwifery to the Regional Office and Member States
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