GAPFON, leveraging nursing’s voice to improve world health

By Hester C. Klopper | 02/20/2015

STTI is the catalyst for this important global initiative.

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It is hard to believe that I have been president of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) for well over a year and am now past the halfway point of my term. The past months have been busy, exciting, and fulfilling on so many fronts. As I look back on what has been accomplished in 2014, I cannot help but reflect on STTI’s 91 years of service to nurses and the nursing profession.
 
Klopper_ID_embed_SFWAs president, I am very much aware of the great privilege and responsibility of building well on the foundation that has been established so that the organization will remain strong for another 90 years and beyond. Without the commitment and devotion of our members, this task would be impossible to fulfill. Therefore, I extend my sincerest thanks to all of you for your support and continued commitment to STTI.
 
Among the many highlights of the past year, several jump to the forefront. I had the privilege of meeting and speaking with so many of you—our members—in Europe, the Middle East, South Africa, North America, and the Pacific Rim. In February 2014, we adopted a strategic plan that will give us direction for the next six years (2014-20). To better serve all of you, the honor society’s leadership has developed mechanisms to increase support for regional coordinators outside North America. In September, our first Middle Eastern chapter was chartered at American University in Beirut, Lebanon. We also approved adding the Middle East as an STTI region, to become effective following the 2015 Biennial Convention.
 
What I am most delighted about this past year, however, is STTI’s convening of the Global Advisory Panel on the Future of Nursing (GAPFON). This group of international nurse leaders is charged with exploring, cultivating, and growing the impact that we, as nurses and midwives, have on global health. As health care providers, we intuitively know and understand how we impact individual citizens and entire populations worldwide. But what is our voice and vision within the context of global health? How can our voice and vision be leveraged to improve health systems and the health of populations? To answer these questions, GAPFON convened for the first time in March 2014 in Switzerland.
 
Through task teams, conference calls, countless emails, and a second meeting in Puerto Rico in December 2014, GAPFON has focused on ways to stimulate partnerships and collaborations to advance global health. These partnerships will include not only nursing leaders, but also those from other disciplines who work to promote health and wellness in all regions of the world, including economists, government leaders, educators, and representatives of regulatory agencies.
 
To reach these leaders, GAPFON will convene eight regional meetings throughout 2015 and 2016 in Jordan, South Korea, Puerto Rico, Europe, North America, and South Africa. Input and guidance from these meetings will direct creation of a GAPFON strategic plan that will ensure inclusion of the nursing and midwifery voice at the table, wherever that table of influence may be. Other potential outcomes of the regional meetings include:
  • Implementation of evidence-based health policies that address global needs, including the post-2015 achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and communicable disease outbreaks, such as Ebola
  • Reduction of incidence of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and advancement of strategies and programs that use the voice and vision of nurses and midwives to achieve, through healthy lifestyles and wellness, desirable population- and community-based objectives
  • Utilization of technology through various applications and settings to address global health needs
  • Focus on addressing regulatory, workforce, and other practice and educational issues
  • Effective engagement of the consumer voice in addressing global health care challenges
The excitement of our GAPFON members and their cohesion, as a group, tell me that very good things will come of these efforts. I am pleased and gratified that STTI is the catalyst for this global initiative.
 
As these meetings are completed, regional reports and comprehensive documents addressing GAPFON findings will be made available at www.gapfon.org. To learn more about GAPFON, read “Global Advisory Panel on the Future of Nursing (GAPFON) and Global Health,” a global commentary article published in the January 2015 issue of STTI’s Journal of Nursing Scholarship.

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Hester C. Klopper, PhD, MBA, RN, RM, FANSA
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