ICAP joined with representatives of the US Government and Ministries of Health from five African countries in Lilongwe, Malawi on November 17 for the launch of the Nursing Education Partnership Initiative–an initiative developed to address the critical shortage of nurses and midwives in sub-Saharan Africa by strengthening the quality and capacity of these health professionals.

ICAP’s Nurse Capacity Initiative (INCI), a multi-country program designed to enhance nursing education opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa, partnered with the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) in the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) over a year ago to begin coordinating and implementing the Nursing Education Partnership Initiative (NEPI). A five-year project funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), NEPI supports the development of transformative nursing educational interventions with the goal of increasing the capacity of selected nursing schools, and the nurse educational system overall. Participating partner countries included Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Building on ICAP’s global health research, education, and programmatic experience in over 21 countries around the world, the ICAP Nurse Capacity Initiative (INCI) is leading the NEPI Coordinating Center, providing training, continuous quality improvement, and evaluation support for nursing education projects carried out in the five selected NEPI countries. The Coordinating Center also plays a pivotal role in planning the implementation of interventions and communications between Ministries of Health, nursing and midwifery schools, educators, professional council, and other stakeholders.

The three-day launch event in Malawi convened many of these key partners for discussions focused on developing teaching, learning, and assessment standards in the nursing clinic and classroom. The event also helped to enhance the INCINEPInetwork, enabling an exchange of best practices, challenges, and opportunities for the partnership.

“The launch event has been an opportunity to deepen our cross-country programs and present the strength and enormous potential of expanded nursing and midwifery leadership to the larger international forum. We are determined to support efforts to increasing the number of skilled nurses and midwives capable of leadership roles within the healthcare team,” said Jennifer Dohrn, project director of the ICAP Nurse Capacity Initiative.

Over the next year, the ICAP-led Coordinating Center will continue to develop sustainable educational interventions in partnership with Ministries of Health in each partner country.

“Nurses are the backbone of the health system,” said Wafaa El-Sadr, ICAP director, “They deserve our full attention and support.” Working toward the critical task of scaling up the quantity and quality of the nursing and midwifery workforce throughout the world, INCINEPI partnership will disseminate its findings and develop models for replicating nursing and midwifery education interventions in other countries.

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