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Zanzibar: Nurses and midwives transforming the landscape of health

Zanzibaris are served by more than 200 health facilities providing primary, primary-plus, secondary and tertiary health care. Located in northern Unguja, Mnazi Mmoja Referral Hospital is the only tertiary-level institution that provides full referral facilities and comprehensive surgical care. Nursing resources are governed by the Zanzibar Nurses and Midwives Council, an independent body dedicated to the welfare of the members of the profession and to advancing nursing and midwifery as essential and professional services on the islands.

While strongly-networked, the health system still endeavours to provide tertiary-level care. Less than 10% of facilities currently offer emergency obstetric and neonatal care. Against this backdrop, the role that each individual plays in the delivery of healthcare becomes even more critical.

At the forefront of those delivering care are nurses and midwives. These are the individuals who engage with patients by their bedsides, provide a first port of call in the community, and advocate for changes to health standards and regulations in response to the needs they see each day.

For over 15 years the Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery has been working with these individuals, helping build the necessary skills for the nurses and midwives of Zanzibar to transform the landscape of health. These are their stories.