Key nurse leaders from the Caribbean region* were invited to participate in a meeting held 17-18 July 2015, followed by leaders from Central and Latin America** on 20-21 July 2015.
Sponsored by Pfizer, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, GAPFON is a catalyst for nurse leaders to work together and develop a unified voice and vision for the future of nursing and health care globally.
Dr. Silvia Cassiani, adviser, Nursing and Allied Health Personnel Development, Unit of Human Resources for Health, Department of Health Systems and Services at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), notes that “GAPFON is a new initiative created by STTI that is bringing together voices from the region to discuss issues related to nursing and health that will contribute to the goal ofuniversal access to health and universal health coverage.”
GAPFON priority issues and health challenges
Nurse leaders from both the Caribbean and Latin America regions confirmed that priority issues and action strategies must focus on:
Nurse leaders from the Caribbean concurred that increased awareness around cultural diversity and its impact on health care and health systems should remain an overarching theme for these four issues.
In addition to the priority issues, Caribbean nurse leaders identified their regional public and global health challenges, including:
- noncommunicable diseases, management and prevention of cancer, improved treatment of substance abuse, and removal of stigma of mental health care
- maternal-child health and the need for increased education in midwifery and women’s health care
- lack of preparedness for disasters and communicable diseases outbreaks
- insufficient resources for healthy aging and healthy lifestyles
“The high level of professionalism, analytical thinking, and empiricism that created the atmosphere within which the meeting was conducted has left participants in anticipation of the outcome to this global consultation exercise,” says Elnora Warner, chief nurse for Antigua and Barbuda and chair of the Regional Nursing Body of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).“The meeting provided an excellent opportunity for nurse leaders from the CARICOM member territories to participate in identifying priority issues for health and nursing and strategies to address them.”
Latin American nurse leaders verbalized the importance of universal health care and the value of leveraging technology and communication in all areas to assist in reaching this goal. They reiterated that ensuring access to healthcare—including community-based care—is an area where nurses can play a pivotal leadership role. Given the increase in aging populations and noncommunicable diseases throughout the region, they agreed that health promotion is vital.
In addition, Latin American nurse leaders identified the need to improve the workforce environment for nurses throughout the region and suggested the establishment of regional standards of care and a broad nursing scope of practice tied to elevated levels of nursing preparation. They emphasized the importance of collaborating with colleagues from various professions, at all levels, regarding health care priorities. They noted that this collaboration is especially important to address the consequences from violence of various types across the region.
“Congratulations to GAPFON and Sigma Theta Tau for providing the opportunity for national and international associations and experts within nursing to analyze the current situation and future challenges of nursing within the context of Latin America, toward global health. We have raised challenges and strategies that seek to ensure that nursing, within local contexts yet in a holistic view of global health care, makes its presence and voice an evidence-based instrument for change and innovation for the health of all populations in our region,” says Dr. Laura Morán Peña, president of Latin American Association of Schools and Colleges of Nursing (ALADEFE) and titular professor in the National School of Nursing and Obstetrics at National Autonomous University of Mexico.
Future GAPFON plans
During the next year, GAPFON will hold additional regional meetings with key stakeholder groups, including representatives from multiple sectors around the world, to obtain knowledge and social, economic, cultural, and political insight related to the priority issues determined at the regional meetings. Data from these meetings will provide the basis for an overall action plan with regional policy implications. GAPFON will analyze and prioritize key recommendations that address each region’s challenges in both global and regional summary reports and will post these at www.gapfon.org
*Antigua-Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, St. Barthelemy, Sts. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Martin, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos.
**Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay