COVID-19: Global Nurses Council Commends Rwanda’s Progress

Howard Catton, ICN CEO
The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has commended the government of Rwanda for supporting and improving conditions of nurses and midwives amidst Covid-19 challenges.
ICN CEO, Howard Catton said that Rwanda has stood out among best performing countries through investing in public health, in the face of Covid-19 which is something worth other countries learning from especially that the health sector was caught off guard by the pandemic.
“We are discussing areas of collaboration and it is an issue I would like to promote here (in Rwanda) and the region,” Catton said as a way of boosting the nursing profession which was affected in various ways by the pandemic.
A world nursing report on the Covid-19 pandemic released this year, shows that the profession suffered from shortage of staff, unpreparedness in skills and infrastructure, and several mental health cases among others.
Basing on this, ICN called on governments to invest rapidly in advanced nursing roles to maximise effectiveness of healthcare systems in a post-pandemic world.
Catton said that Rwanda is so far one of the examples of places where this has been done with collaboration of nursing unions.
However, there are still other places lacking despite lessons learnt from Covid-19 on the need to be prepared through health investment.
In Rwanda, Catton acknowledged that the local union has ensured protection of nurses with personal protective equipment (PPEs), capacity building and collaborative efforts with government to mitigate the challenges of the pandemic especially on shortage of staff in Covid19 treatment and testing centres as seen in Europe and the Americas.
For instance Rwanda’s figures show that the number of nurses has grown from 347 in 1994 to over 10,700 as of 2017 but as small as this could look compared to other countries, with assistance of health volunteers in Rwanda they have stood Covid-19 front lines to provide needed health care.
For these progressive efforts and management of the pandemic, Catton said it is no doubt the reason why Rwanda has been short listed among few countries to host the 2026 global nursing conference.
“Rwanda should be congratulated for being on the short list of countries to host the global nurses and midwives conference and this is because of the impressive work nurses have done,” Catton said on September 16.
He was on an official visit to access progress made by Rwanda Nurses and Midwives Union (RNMU) after the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.
The ICN boss said that hosting the global conference is competitive but Rwanda is one of the countries being considered to host the event which is due in 2026.
RNMU chairperson, Andre Gitembagara said that Rwanda would love to host the global event because of its track record in economic stability, tourism and health investment
Gitembagara also asked that ICN establishes an Africa regional coordination office, preferably in the east Africa region so as to ease collaboration of training and capacity building needs for nurses in Rwanda and largely to Africa.
ICN said that this feedback will be considered with participation of the World Health Organization Africa office, as a matter of concern to address challenges such as education, scholarships and health investments among other needs in the profession.



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