Overview and History

PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centres for International Nursing Development in Primary Care

In 1986, the UIC College of Nursing (CON) became the first World Health Organization Collaborating Centre (WHOCC) for International Nursing Development in Primary Health Care (PHC) in the United States. A Collaborating Centre is "an institution designated by the WHO Director-General to form part of an international collaborative network carrying out activities in support of the organization's program at all levels."

Building upon a growing commitment to CON’s international nursing development and the expansion of its program for international activities, designation as a WHO Collaborating Centre signified the CON’s commitment to contribute to WHO programs.  It also solidified CON’s tenure as a top ranked nursing program and its goals of development and promotion of nursing all through primary healthcare.

In keeping with the mission of the UIC, the CON has pledged its leadership to the creation of a network of nursing educational institutions oriented to primary health care and its support of nursing leadership capabilities to other countries as to effect the changes required in nursing practice, research, education, and service.  The CON's designation as a WHO Collaborating Centre was renewed in 1992, 1996, 2003 and 2007.

The WHO Collaborating Centre serves as a resource to nurses around the world. Collaborating Centre staff continually work with WHO to promote technical cooperation among countries, to develop and share educational materials, to disseminate information, and to initiate collaborative nursing research projects of regional and international significance.

The PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre for International Nursing Development in Primary Health Care is one of over 40 Centres worldwide that make up the Global Network of WHO Collaborating Centres for Nursing and Midwifery Development. Each Collaborating Centre has a set of Terms of Reference (TOR) and a plan of work that has been agreed with WHO to contribute to its program and goals. The UIC CON designation as a WHO/PAHO Collaborating Centre for International Nursing Development in Primary Health Care includes collaboration in activities related to development of nursing education, practice, research, and leadership to strengthen human resources for health and promote innovative primary health care practices.

The designation of the CON as a WHO Collaborating Centre indicates the CON's "scientific and technical standing" at national and international levels, and the high "quality of its scientific and technical leadership" in nursing, two criteria which the World Health Organization (WHO) uses in the selection of institutions as Collaborating Centres.

UIC Designation

The CON's designation as the PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre for International Nursing Development in Primary Health Care has been reviewed and renewed every four years since 1986.  The most recent renewal was in 2011 to 2015. As part of the re-designation process, all WHOCCs submit their plan of work to address respective Terms of Reference (TOR). A TOR is a brief statement of the nature of activity that the WHOCC will undertake during its current four year designation as a WHOCC.

Terms of Reference (TOR) for PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre for International Nursing Development in Primary Health Care


To collaborate with PAHO/WHO in the dissemination PAHO of WHO/Primary Health Care program-based research findings and best practices to address Millennium Development Goals among policy makers, health care providers and consumers.


To collaborate with PAHO/WHO in the facilitation of multidisciplinary research focused on primary health care, education and practice with special emphasis on capacity building of nursing human resources.


To collaborate with PAHO/WHO in developing education mechanisms in developing nursing and other human resources for the health of multidisciplinary global PHC practice, education and research within the PAHO region.

What is Primary Health Care (PHC)?

Declaration of Alma-Ata

In 1978, delegates of the International Conference on Primary Health Care (Alma-Ata, USSR, 6-12 September 1978) issued a declaration stating that “Primary health care is essential health care based on practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology made universally accessible to individuals and families in the community through their full participation and at a cost that the community and country can afford to maintain at every stage of their development in the spirit of self-reliance and self-determination.” The PHC approach has since been adopted by the World Health Organization. To read the full declaration, please visit: