ICAP hosted its sixth annual summit meeting of the Nursing Education Partnership Initiative (NEPI) “Nursing and Midwifery Education for an AIDS-Free Generation” on January 21-23 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The summit brought together over 100 partners, nurses, doctors, educators, policy makers and donors to discuss the current state of nursing education in sub-Saharan Africa and efforts to achieve ambitious HIV goals such as 90-90-90, where 90 percent of people with HIV are diagnosed; on antiretroviral treatment; and virally suppressed by 2020.
Funded by PEPFAR through HRSA, NEPI is working to strengthen the quality of nursing and midwifery education institutions and ensure the production of sufficient numbers of nurses in Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and South Africa. Given that nurses make up from 60 to 80% of the healthcare workforce in these countries, highly qualified and experienced nurses are the keys to reaching HIV care and treatment goals.
Discussion was centered on the role of nurses in public health policy, gaps in regulation for current nursing practice, such as nurse-initiated and managed HIVtreatment, and the need to retain nurses in the profession over time.
Presentations were given by representatives from the Ministry of Health from each NEPI country, key partners and international organizations, and NEPI program managers and faculty. They highlighted key successes, including the launch of ICAP’s online nurse training in Option B+, a new approach to the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV; enhanced opportunities for nurses and midwives through new degree programs; and advances in hands-on training for HIV-related core competency.
“The conference highlighted the breadth and scope of NEPI’s accomplishments across the six countries,” said Lyn Middleton, ICAP’s regional nurse advisor for NEPI. “It was very evident the deep ownership countries have in these programs and strong interest in seeing programs expand.”