Highlights of the International Council of Nurses 2007 Annual Conference

Barbara Sheer, DNSc, FNP-C, FAANP


August 08, 2007

In This Article

The Conference Opening Ceremony and Sessions

A brochure displaying cherry blossoms with the stunning yet elusive Mount Fiji in the background invited delegates to convene for the 2007 International Council of Nurses (ICN) conference. More than 3600 delegates representing 109 countries participated in this year's meeting.

The opening ceremony began with the impressive parade of nations, as representatives from member National Nursing Associations marched in the traditional dress of their nations. The final group to be welcomed into the hall was the Japanese Nursing Association wearing beautiful traditional kimonos. In her opening remarks, ICN President Dr. Hiroko Minami expressed her pleasure at welcoming the conference delegates to her home. In 1977, when the ICN met in Tokyo, Dr. Minami was honored to be one of 4 Japanese presenters. Today, there were over 300 Japanese presentations.

Since Dr. Minami had been a student in 1977, she was particularly pleased to announce the launch of the ICN student network, highlighting the important voice of students within the global community, particularly as we face a significant nursing shortage. Dr. Minami stated that she selected the concept of 'harmony' as the theme of her ICN presidency, explaining that harmony does not mean avoiding conflict. Instead, harmony is like an orchestra working together to achieve a common goal. Like the orchestra with its different instruments contributing their unique sounds to create harmony, in healthcare, harmony results when we combine our individual wisdom, knowledge, and power.

Collaboration was also highlighted by Dr. Otmar Kloiber, Secretary General of the World Medical Association. The World Medical Association guides the national medical associations and has official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO). It maintains partnerships and alliances with other health professional organizations, including ICN, as part of the World Health Professions Alliance. The alliance addresses global health issues and works to facilitate collaboration between governmental and nongovernmental agencies and policy makers to improve healthcare.

To improve the health of nations, collaboration is necessary not only with other health professions, but also with private corporations. Merck Sharpe and Dohme (MSD) was awarded the Partners in Development Award for the ICN/MSD Mobile Library. The Mobile Library was officially launched in London on December 4, 2004, and has become a valuable resource to nurses providing care in remote or difficult circumstances.

The Mobile Library is a resource of 80 medical/nursing texts housed in an insectproof, waterproof case. The library contains up-to-date information for nurses who are delivering frontline care in developing countries. For example, in Africa, over 80% of healthcare is provided by nurses who care for patients with a variety of health issues ranging from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, to malnutrition, as well as providing information on health promotion and disease prevention. Merck, in conjunction with ICN and Elsevier, has provided 171 libraries to over 120 African communities.

In 2006, there was a new initiative to send the libraries to nurses delivering care to refugee populations in Africa. Fifty libraries have been supplied to refugee camps. The 5-year plan is to supply a library to every camp for a total of 500 libraries. In addition, the Merck Manual has been distributed to many nurses in developing areas.

Conference attendees were able to view the Mobile Library display in the Exhibit Hall. For more information about the Mobile Library as well as individual stories about the Library's use, visit the Library's Web site.

Cultural entertainment concluded the opening ceremony. The Ono Gagaku Group performed a variety of dances and introduced the audience to a variety of melodious sounds produced by traditional Japanese instruments.

The Japanese Nurses Association was a wonderful host. In the Exhibit Hall they offered a glimpse into their culture. Delegates were given the chance to dress in kimonos and invited to witness a tea ceremony. The conference coincided with the centennial celebration of Yokohama Harbor, so those in attendance were able to participate in this historic event, which included music, entertainment, and a dynamic fireworks display.


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