Cook Islands Health Minister Named Chief Nursing Officer At WHO

Elizabeth Iro has 30 years of experience in mental health

By Rashneel Kumar

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Oct. 13, 2017) – Secretary of health Elizabeth Iro has been appointed the chief nursing officer at the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The appointment was made by the WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus earlier this week at the 68th session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific in Brisbane, Australia.

“I am thrilled to welcome Ms Iro to our team as WHO’s chief nursing officer,” said Dr Tedros in a statement.

“Nurses play a critical role not only in delivering healthcare to millions around the world, but also in transforming health policies, promoting health in communities, and supporting patients and families.

“Nurses are central to achieving universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals. Ms Iro will keep that perspective front and centre at WHO.” Iro has more than 30 years of experience in public health in the Cook Islands and regionally.  She had previously served as the country’s chief nursing officer and acting director of Hospital Health Services.

For the first 25 years of her career, Iro was a staff nurse, midwife and charge midwife at hospitals in the Cook Islands and New Zealand. A WHO statement says as secretary of Health, she has implemented reforms to strengthen the country’s health system. “These include developing the country’s National Health Roadmap 2017-2036, the National Health Strategic Plan 2017-2021, and the Health Clinical Workforce Plan,” the statement adds.

With the appointment of Iro as the WHO chief nursing officer, Dr Tedros fulfils a commitment he made during his transition to the director-general role to appoint a nurse to his senior team.

“This appointment is the latest addition to the senior leadership team Dr Tedros announced last week, which includes representatives from every WHO region and is 60 per cent women,” the statement says.

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