For 15 years the Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery (AKU-SONAM) in East Africa has focused on developing the capacities of nurses and midwives to meet diverse health challenges across this region. Nurses and midwives make up the largest proportion of health workers globally, and in East Africa represent more than 85% of the health workforce. In many places, they are the only point of care, meaning their ability to respond appropriately is the difference between life and death for thousands of individuals.
While nurses are very familiar in the role of clinical service delivery, they also serve in several other ways. Nurses are community educators providing much needed health information in underserved areas; mentors who support community health workers; health advocates who provide insight to changing clinical practices; and innovators who influence policy and health service reform.
Midwives provide essential clinical and psychosocial care needed by women as they prepare for and give birth, performing a critical service in the prevention of unnecessary maternal and newborn deaths. Midwives act as a trusted resource within their communities.
Investment in nurse and midwife training has outsized impact in underserved populations, particularly in rural areas that characterise the majority of those living in East Africa. For example, Uganda has more than 2,000 government health services solely led by nurses and/or midwives.
The School of Nursing and Midwifery operates from campuses in Nairobi, Kenya; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Kampala, Uganda. Its academic programmes provide clinical upgrading programmes for working nurses and include an Enrolled Nurse to Registered Nurse (EN-RN) Diploma, Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN), Bachelor of Science in Midwifery (BScM) and Specialised Diploma in Oncology Nursing.
Read the full report “Our work and our future: Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery in East Africa 2019-2023” that outlines AKU-SONAM’s work for the next half decade.