Beth Waweru (right) with the Chief Nursing Officer of Murang'a County during a previous workshop
Nurse and midwife instructors from the Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery (AKU-SONAM) have been working diligently to train nurses and midwives across Kenya under the Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programme for nurses and midwives.
The training is part of a collaboration between AKU-SONAM and the KfW Development Bank who work together to ensure that nurses and midwives continue to have the capacity to provide safe, effective and competent care as well as to reacquaint themselves with research in health service delivery and the dynamic needs of the communities they serve.
Since 2018, more than 6,297 nurses and midwives have been trained through this programme in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. This programme was especially crucial during the initial COVID-19 pandemic period when healthcare professionals across the world were blindsided by the pandemic.
The initiative involves SONAM EA providing free training in various areas including Infection Prevention and Control, the Nursing Process, Health Facility leadership and management, chemotherapy safety and several other courses as determined by the needs assessment conducted before each training. So far this year, the team has conducted training sessions in counties such as Murang'a, Bungoma, Kajiado, Nyeri, Kirinyaga and West Pokot.
According to Beth Waweru, CPD instructor at AKU-SONAM, one of her most eye-opening experiences was in West Pokot. West Pokot is a county in the northwest of Kenya. It borders Turkana County to the north and Uganda to the west. When Beth got to West Pokot, she expected that nursing would be female-dominated. However, when she arrived, things were different: “In West Pokot, unlike in other counties, the nursing profession is male-dominated and men hold senior leadership positions. Also, girls marry at a very young age and may not fully pursue their careers due to family commitments."
The training session happened over three days from 20-23 July in Kapenguria, with a clinical practice session at the Kapenguria Level V Hospital. About 68 nurses and midwives attended the sessions that covered nursing professionalism and ethics as well as leadership and management at the request of the Director of Nursing Services in the County, Samwel Lopar. The leadership course covered leadership theories and styles, organizational culture, team building, financial literacy, conflict resolution, human resource management and quality assurance while the nursing process delved into the fundamentals of nursing professionalism during practice. At the end of the sessions, Mr Lopar said: “We appreciate the partnership with AKU-SONAM in training our nurses and midwives. The training will have a great impact on our healthcare workforce to ensure that the right procedures are followed." He added: “The Leadership course is imperative for those in leadership positions and will help us enhance good working relationships among ourselves as we mentor upcoming leaders for new roles. With these courses and many more that this partnership will enable, we hope to improve service delivery to our clients, especially those in remote areas."
Despite the success of the training, Beth and the rest of the team also noticed another unmet need: the need to address the rate of teenage pregnancies prevalent in the region. Beth says: “During our clinical practice session at the Kapenguria Level V Hospital, I saw a Class Seven pupil who had undergone a caesarian section and I could not help but shed tears." West Pokot is one of the counties with the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Kenya. Based on reports by the Kenya Health Information System, at least 800 pregnancy cases have been reported every month since March 2020. The pregnancy cases involve teenage girls aged between 10 – 19 years. According to Beth, this is enough motivation to facilitate an initiative to help address teenage pregnancies in the region.