The County Government of Nakuru is channeling more resources towards developing its nursing and midwifery workforce in order to achieve a rapid, cost-effective expansion of high-quality Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
County Director of Health Administration and Planning, Dr. Joy Mugambi said nurses play a big role in health services and are critical in managing the emerging health challenges of modern times.
Speaking during the eighth graduation ceremony at Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) Nakuru West Medical College Dr Mugambi noted that nurses were well positioned to provide health-promotion and disease-prevention advice in addition to coordinating and supporting teams of primary health care workers at all levels.
She observed that there was enough evidence to prove that cost-effective expansion of Universal Health Coverage heavily depends on training and enabling the existing workforce, including nurses and midwives, to work more effectively.
The Director said there would be a profound effect on how quickly UHC could be achieved if nurses and midwives were enabled to work to the full scope of their license class or to take on new roles in expanded and specialized practice.
She noted that more residents were now seeking health care services in public health facilities as compared to private ones, and attributed the trend to the decision by the county government to hire more qualified healthcare workers and intensifying of health promotion activities across the county.
Dr. Mugambi challenged nurses entering the job market to use their skills to combat the infant and maternal mortalities and emerging diseases such as Covid-19 pandemic to promote the effectiveness of the Universal Health coverage.
“Nurses are entering the job market at a time when their input will be needed to reduce the ever increasing human resource gaps and therefore they should abide by the Florence Nightingale Hippocratic Oath for Nurses,” advised the Director.
She also advised the graduates to widen their scope and tap into the many opportunities in the health sector within and beyond the County borders and help bridge gaps in the health care sector workforce which she said was currently strained.
Dr. Mugambi said the graduation of 17 nurses, who were awarded diplomas, will go a long way in bolstering the county’s efforts to provide quality care and improve health service delivery.
The institution’s Principal Mr Cyprian Madungu said that in the past 12 years 200 Kenyan Registered Nurses had graduated from the medical college adding that the institution was now introducing new programmes to meet the market demands including Health Records and Information among other courses.
Mr Madungu indicated that the graduation would give a boost to the medical field which has been hit with a shortage of healthcare workers, way below the World Health Organization requirement.
A World Health Organization analysis released in June last year showed Kenya as being among the top six countries in Africa with the highest concentration of health workers.
However, Kenya still does not meet the WHO health worker-to-population ratio despite the country having in the last 10 years established medical training colleges in 44 out of the 47 counties.
The study, titled “The health workforce status in the WHO African Region: findings of a cross-sectional study”, published in the British Medical Journal Global Health, surveyed 47 African countries and found that Africa has a ratio of 1.55 health workers (physicians, nurses and midwives) per 1000 people. This is below the WHO threshold density of 4.45 health workers per 1,000 people needed to deliver essential health services and achieve universal health coverage.
By Esther Mwangi