AKU School of Nursing and Midwifery East Africa (SONAM EA), Kenya's Ministry of Health, the Johnson & Johnson Foundation alongside several other stakeholders signed a Memorandum of Understanding to launch the Nurse and Midwife Alliance.
SONAM EA Academic Head, Isabel Kambo represented the School in a signing ceremony chaired by the Ministry of Health Cabinet Secretary, Hon Mutahi Kagwe. The Alliance convenes all nurses and midwives in the country to facilitate the professional growth of the healthcare practice. It will be funded by Johnson & Johnson Foundation through the Aga Khan Foundation.
Celebrating this new partnership, SONAM EA Dean, Dr Eunice Ndirangu-Mugo said, "We have been working with Johnson & Johnson for the past 20 years to build the capacity of nurses and midwives in the region. They have supported us extensively by funding some of our most promising nurses and midwives. They also supported us when we worked on a project to strengthen professional nursing and midwifery associations in East Africa. As we embark on this new project that seeks to clarify the critical roles and responsibilities of nurses and midwives in Kenya in healthcare service delivery, we stand a good opportunity to enhance nursing and midwifery's image and professional standing. In doing so, we will contribute to universal health coverage by improving the quality of healthcare and health outcomes of the population we serve."
During the event, all parties recognized the importance of nurses and midwives in achieving Universal Health Coverage. Speaking at the launch, Hon Mutahi Kagwe underscored the role of nurses and midwives. He noted that the efficiency of the health sector is highly dependent on the operational role of midwives and nurses in health facilities. The Alliance, Hon Kagwe said, will also serve as an investment towards attaining Universal Health Coverage across the country, as nurses and midwives play the essential role of primary healthcare prevention and follow-up. This includes prevention, early detection, and providing support for short term conditions like pregnancy and long term chronic diseases like diabetes among others.
"Nurses and midwives are a crucial cogwheel in delivering healthcare services and complement the role of clinical officers and medical doctors among other health delivery players. Their actions and utterances can therefore determine the extent of patients' access to health. In light of this critical role, the Nurse and Midwife Alliance aims to train and sensitize the members to facilitate a smooth experience in the patients' and clients' access to health, which is a basic human right." Hon Kagwe added.
While acknowledging the importance of the partnership to UHC goals, Johnson & Johnson Foundation Director Global Community impact for Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr Anthony Gitau said: "At Johnson & Johnson Foundation, we are actively working to uplift the role of nurses and midwives as part of our commitment to supporting and championing the plight of the people at the heart of healthcare delivery front lines."
The project has already commenced plans to formulate a Nursing and Midwifery Policy and Scheme of Service to profile, specify duties and grade all levels of the Nursing and Midwifery functions. The Nursing and Midwifery Policy and Scheme of Service will also feature a Scope of Practice to guide all health professionals on the roles and responsibilities of nurses and midwives in Kenya. Additionally, the Alliance seeks to position local nurses' and midwives' image and professional identity while developing strategies to achieve a public profile that reflects their scholarship and professionalism.
This initiative intends to achieve these objectives by improving the education, professional development, standards, regulation and terms of service for nurses and midwives. The Alliance is also expected to roll out continuous civic education for nurses and midwives, sensitizing humane, compassionate, and dignified patient/ client care in promoting the patient's/client's dignity through respect, empathy, courtesy, advocacy and access to a short turnaround in the handling of patients. Similarly, the project intends to facilitate the staging of an annual Nursing and Midwifery award scheme.
SONAM EA is convening the Nurse and Midwife Alliance in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Nursing Council of Kenya, Kenya Progressive Nurses' Association, National Nurses Association of Kenya, Midwives Association of Kenya, mHealth Kenya, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA).