Sydney Nursing School graduate Dr Amelia Latu Afuhaamango Tuipulotu has been appointed as Chief Nursing Officer by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Dr Latu, who will join WHO during the first quarter of the new year, was previously Minister for Health of the Kingdom of Tonga, and before that Tonga’s Chief Nursing Officer.
As WHO’s Chief Nursing Officer, Dr Tuipulotu will champion, nurture and support nurses and midwives to ensure that their skills and experience are being well-utilised to strengthen health systems and to bolster their critical role in bringing patients, communities and national health systems closer together.
“I am delighted that Amelia will join WHO at a critical time in global public health when investment in both the health workforce and science is imperative to strengthening health systems and outbreak preparedness and prevention,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement.
“As Chief Nursing Officer, Amelia will ignite the all-important need not only to fill the gap in health workers worldwide but also to ensure they receive the support they need and deserve.”
Dr Tu’ipulotu has a long connection with the University of Sydney, serving as a doctoral student from 2008-2012, and as an Honorary Professor within the Sydney Nursing School.
In 2012, Dr Tu’ipulotu graduated from Sydney Nursing School with a doctoral degree, supervised by Emeritus Professor Jill White and Associate Professor Maureen Boughton.
According to the WHO media release announcement Dr Tu’ipulotu was the first Tongan person to receive a PhD in nursing .
Dr Tu'ipulotu was working as a nurse in Sydney when she decided she could make a difference in her home country by undertaking further study.
“I knew I needed to gain a better understanding of the reality of nursing practice in Tonga and study both the enablers and challenges within the Tongan nursing context,” says Dr Tu'ipulotu.
“I found that policies in the Tongan hospitals often did not fit the reality of nursing practice due to lack of basic resources.
"The policies we were using were more appropriate to nursing practice in a developed world context.”
With her background as a teacher in the Queen Salote School of Nursing (QSSN), Dr Tu’ipulotu’s thesis informed the development of national standards for nursing practice – the Siate Folau.
These became the basis for safeguarding the quality and safety of nursing practice in Tonga.
Her contribution to the enrichment of society through improving health care standards in Tonga has earned her the 2014 Alumni Award for Professional Achievement, a prestigious honorary award from the University.
Dr Tu’ipulotu was instrumental in supporting Sydney Nursing School students to undertake community health placements in Tonga, supported by the Australian New Colombo Plan for several years.
In 2019, she became the Kingdom of Tonga’s first female Minister of Health; and in 2020 became a member of the WHO Executive Board.
During her time as Chief Nursing Officer for Tonga, she said, “improving the health of the Tongan people is my top priority and that of the Tongan government. Tonga's nurses are at the frontier of strategies to improve the overall healthcare of the community.”
Professor Brendan McCormack, Head and School and Dean of Sydney Nursing School, says, “Amelia’s new appointment as WHO’s Chief Nursing Officer is a remarkable achievement as it elevates women’s leadership in global health and moves the needle further toward gender equity.
“We are very proud to have Amelia as part of our alumni and academic community. It is truly inspiring to see our graduates, such as Amelia, continue to flourish at such a high level and on a global scale.”