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Nursing postgrads gain Nepad merit

- By Reshma Lakha-Singh

In June this year, the first group of Master of Nursing candidates from the Wits School of Therapeutic Sciences graduated from the Instituto Superior de Ciencias de Saude (ISCISA) in Maputo, Mozambique.

The Masters programme was made possible via a consortium of university partners which included the Wits Department of Nursing Education in the School of Therapeutic Sciences. The founding partner is the Collaboration in Higher Education for Nursing and Midwifery in Africa (CHENMA).

Funded by NEPAD, CHENMA focuses on improving the qualifications of nurses, nursing lecturers and clinicians at nursing schools and hospitals in African countries where specialised skills are lacking.

Countries involved include Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Mozambique. The coursework is designed to take into account the country specific health care needs, with a research component addressing problems within the specific country. Training is provided by a consortium of senior nurse academics from various Southern African universities, including Wits, KwaZulu-Natal, Pretoria, North West, Free State and Botswana.

“The core aim of the programme is to enable the host, the Instituto Superior de Ciencias de Saude in Mozambique, to provide the training themselves on a sustainable basis. It is based on a teach-the-teacher concept, to enable learning to spread,” says project leader and the Head of the Wits School of Therapeutic Sciences, Professor Judy Bruce.

She adds that in some countries, nursing education stops at basic first aid training, “Hence the African Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International, a global community of nurse leaders who committed themselves to provide leadership and access to enhance the practise of nursing in Africa and to change and save lives.”

Bruce emphasises that, “Nurses are the front line staff at any health care centre. They form the backbone of health service delivery and the quality of care is dependent on the quality of nursing care. This training aims to solve those problems and provide the right training to those nurses.”

CHENMA began in 2007 with focus areas in Kenya, the DRC and Rwanda. The Mozambican leg of the project, of which Wits is a consortium partner began in 2010. Several unique features include that the participation of consortium partners is done on a voluntary basis, almost philanthropic and the host institution awards the qualification.

The Mozambican graduates hailed from three different provinces ensuring that the major hospitals in core areas have nursing expertise in critical care and trauma. The top graduate award in critical care was given to Hamido Braimo. “He was my best student, and received a distinction. Amazingly the gratitude, appreciation and hunger for knowledge is what made my task in Mozambique an absolute privilege,” says Bruce.

In June 2015, the next 10 graduants will receive their degrees. “We already have a system in place to assist with the training of the next cohort. We will monitor, evaluate and provide guidance but leave the teaching up the new teachers,” adds Bruce.

With absolute determination and sheer dedication, Bruce indicates that her job is not complete yet: “My next task is to ensure that the Mozambican authorities and unions regulate the qualification, so that quality is guaranteed and maintained.”