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My trip to Geneva in May to attend the World Health Assembly (as well as a number of related meetings) as part of the official New Zealand delegation was a time of learning as well as sharing. It reiterated for me how well the New Zealand health sector is doing in comparison to some other countries, both developed and undeveloped.

I attended 11 days of meetings in a row, which left me feeling brimming with new knowledge and ideas, as well as a little weary. The first meeting I attended was with the national nurse associations (NNAs), attended by representatives from 64 out of 129 countries. The first item was the environmental scan which included nursing, health, society, government and professional associations.

The next topic was International nurse migration: crisis or opportunity. The contrast between presentations from a nurse from Malawi and one from America was huge, deliberately so to stimulate discussion.

The following day began with safe staffing. The presentations this time were from Australia and Ireland. One of the strongest points made was "words without a legislative base are words without power". This means that when we make decisions, they need to be able to be legally enforceable. When we talk about safe staffing we need to Look at staffing levels, rather than ratios. We need to took not only at patient safety but nurse safety as well.

The impact of the work environment was next on the agenda. This covered things such as abuse, violence and needle stick injuries. Nursing education and life-long learning were the last items on the agenda. These looked at nursing schools and the different ways of training. Some courses are free; others like New Zealand are fee-paying.

The second meeting was a meeting of the triad--NNAs, regulators and nurses working for government ministries. This covered health migration, skill mix and new cadres of workers, education service gaps and positive practice environments. I gave the presentation for the NNAs on positive practice environments.

The third meeting was the World Health Practitioners' Alliance. This involved nurses, doctors, dentists and pharmacists. Included in this programme was building a blame-free, responsible health care environment, patient safety, a global overview of counterfeit medicines and the impact of health professionals on society. Several panel discussions were held involving representatives from the four groups.

The second week saw the start of the World Health Assembly. This was so different to any nursing conference I had been to. The logistics of organising over 2000 people into rather restricted sessions was frustrating at times. The first few days started slowly, which created pressure as the assembly went on. It was interesting to see the New Zealand delegation working with other countries to ensure a suitable outcome. New Zealand was highly respected and our delegates were often asked for comment.

It was an honour to represent NZNO at an international forum, to share our ideas and further cement NZNO's valuable position in nursing internationally.

Since I have been home, I have attended five regional conventions, sat two exams and, somewhere in between, have managed to do some work. I was encouraged by the amount of member participation at the conventions and each one, although they had the same programme, often added new ideas to those already discussed. This reinforces that, although we are all involved in the health sector in one way or another, we can have different ways of Looking at situations which brings depth and new ideas to our practice. We are always learning and it is great to have the opportunities to talk and share together in the hope we can improve health outcomes for our patients.
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Title Annotation:LETTERS
Author:Guy, Marion
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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