Rwanda’s minister of health Dr. Daniel Ngamije has rallied governments to invest in building capacities of nurses and midwives on the continent in order to improve the nursing career that has played a major role in managing the Covid19 pandemic.
Minister Ngamije was this Wednesday addressing the International Council of Nurses (ICN) Africa region congress which met virtually to discuss challenges and best practices of the professional nurses during COVID19, investment needs and ways of improving health sector infrastructure for future pandemics.
The ICN Africa region congress held under the theme: “Nursing around the World” is part of the ICN Global with 27million members from 130 countries. Every two years these members meet in the ICN Congress to discuss research, career challenges among others.
This year’s event was supposed to be held physically in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) but due to the Covid19 pandemic it was held virtually with over 5,000 participants.
This year’s event also saw each of the continentally classified regions of nurses in the world hold regional meetings within the general ICN congress.
Addressing the Africa congress, Dr. Ngamije said that there is a global need of about 9 million nurses and midwives in order to attain universal healthcare coverage by 2030 and thus a need to invest in critical training of midwives, nurses of all categories especially in Africa where the pandemic has informed this direction.
“Rwanda is initiating a training program (associate nursing) to compliment other existing programs of registered nurses and at a higher level in order to meet the need especially at primary health care level,” Ngamije told the congress in a video link message.
The minister challenged global nurses to work hard to attain the Agenda 2063 goals dubbed as the ‘Africa we want’ where every African citizen is expected to have a high quality of lifestyle and standard of living where educated citizens and skills revolution are driven by science, technology and innovation.
“I challenge nurses on the continent working in collaboration with nurses worldwide to make a huge and valuable contribution in achieving the above goals.
Ngamije acknowledged that Covid19 has totally changed the work schedule of nurses increasing their workload amidst fears of the pandemic however nurses showed outstanding residence which seen many do more than nursing, treatment, prevention, contact tracing, vaccination to cordination, organization and management of healthcare service under the pandemic.
ICN, RNMU workshop in Kigali sept/2021 , the ICN CEO Mr Howard Catton pointed out that there is need to invest in Nursing more so now because of the COVID effectsThe minister also reminded the nurses that Rwanda is bidding to host the next ICN Congress in Kigali in 2022 and this will be an opportunity to share the Rwandan story and best practices face to face.
Closing Covid19 related Nurses gaps
Andre Gitembagara, the ICN Africa region representative and chairperson of Rwanda Nurses and Midwives Union (RNMU) said that Rwanda has made progress in developing the nursing career but there are plans to increase pandemic preparedness and increasing numbers of nurses in Rwanda and on the continental level.
Until 1994 Rwanda had less than 400 registered nurses but the number has grown exponentially to over 10,700.
“This number will be increased since government has reinstated the associate nursing program that is aimed at increasing numbers of nurses in the country which needs nearly 20,000 nurses by 2030,” Gitembagara said.
As the newly elected ICN regional representative, Gitembagara said that the Covid-19 pandemic has seen a nursing manpower migration from African to developed countries especially in the United Kingdom and Canada.
We in Africa are lacking 80% of the global need for nurses. This has been caused by internal migration-switching careers but also external migration has become an issue especially during the pandemic,” Gitembagara said.
To resolve this matter and retain Rwanda or more so African nurses within the continent, Gitembagara said that they will be focusing on critical training and incentives to retain nurses but also raise a bargain in the brain drain that is happening.