SONAM Dean Dr Eunice Ndirangu-Mugo receives the grant award from ICN CEO, Mr Howard Catton
The Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery East Africa (SONAM EA) has won a grant from the International Council of Nurses to advance the School's Advanced Practice Nursing (APN) programme.
The grant was awarded during the 12th International Council of Nurses (ICN) Nurse Practitioner and Advanced Practice Network Conference which ran from August 21 to 24, in Dublin, Ireland.
“This grant is important to SONAM as it emphasizes the need to develop more Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs) in East Africa as we aim to realize Universal Health Coverage. It is encouraging to see ICN recognize our role in developing APNs across the region," said SONAM EA Dean, Dr Eunice Ndirangu-Mugo.
During the conference, Dr Ndirangu shared findings from a research study that helped to set the Advanced Practice Nursing and Midwifery scope of practice in Kenya. According to the study, nurses and midwives already play several roles beyond their job description, especially in community settings where there are hardly any doctors and clinical officers. In such settings, they often treat and diagnose illnesses, advise the public on health issues and manage chronic diseases because doctors are few or unavailable. The Scope of Practice and accompanying education should reflect these additional roles in response to 21st Century healthcare needs, including an upsurge of non-communicable diseases and emerging pandemics such as COVID-19. The research is part of the Nurse Midwife Alliance project, funded by the Johnson and Johnson Foundation.
Kenya - through the Nursing Council of Kenya - and SONAM were acknowledged as benchmarks of how APN/M education and regulation should function across sub-Saharan Africa. Dr Ndirangu and ICN Network Chair, Dr Daniela Lehwaldt had a roundtable discussion alongside other nursing leaders on how Kenya's model of APN/M regulation could be expanded across the continent.
ICN Chief Executive Officer, Mr Howard Catton said, “We have the evidence: we see around the world how APN roles and nurse-led services are delivering high quality, accessible, timely, people-centered and cost-effective health care. And we have the strategy. Now we need to do more to see nurse-led models of care used in health systems."
The grant will support the dissemination of the research, which will go a long way to provide a benchmark for developing clear and concise job descriptions and specifications for APNs and APMs in Kenya, thereby supporting their recruitment, deployment, retention, and professional development.
“As we implement this grant, we target AKU's values of Impact, Quality, Relevance and Access. We hope to develop further initiatives to bolster the APN programme and demonstrate its impact on regional healthcare systems" noted Dr Ndirangu.
Various distinguished guests were in attendance including the Prime Minister of Ireland, the Director General of the World Health Organization, and the ICN President. The conference theme was Advanced Practice Nursing: Shaping the Future of Healthcare.