In Zambia, like in many countries around the world, nurses and midwives form the backbone of the health workforce and serve at every level of the health care system, but their skills are often uneven, underutilized, and unrecognized. ICAP is addressing these challenges through efforts to transform nursing and midwifery education and training using innovative approaches aimed at strengthening the health systems in 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

On May 3, ICAP in Zambia, in partnership with the Zambia Ministry of Health, sponsored the launch of the Nursing Education Partnership Initiative (NEPI) at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka. Supported by the US Department of Health and Human Services/Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), NEPI aims to enhance nursing and midwifery educational institutions. In Zambia, ICAP through NEPI will work in harmony with national plans to improve the availability and distribution of qualified healthcare workers to overcome the dire shortage of medical doctors, nurses, and midwives, to increase the percentage of health workers that are absorbed into the public health workforce, and to support innovative retention strategies to decrease the annual attrition rate.

Together, the two partners aim to support three nursing schools, equipping the schools with innovative teaching and learning tools and infrastructure enhancements. For the development of nursing tutors and other faculty members, for example, ICAP through NEPI will facilitate exchanges and best practice visits among schools, provide scholarships, and a select number of Master’s degrees, and facilitate needs-based short courses and workshops.

More than 150 individuals, including the guests of honor, the Zambian Minister of Health, Honorable Dr. Joseph Kasonde, and the US Ambassador, Mr. Mark Storella attended the launch of NEPI in Zambia. Also in attendance were senior officials from the Ministry of Health, US Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA), US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the General Nursing Council, Zambia Nurses Union Organization (ZUNO), the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI), and representatives from the three selected nurse training institutions supported by NEPI—Monze School of Nursing, Lusaka School of Nursing of the UTH, and the Department of Nursing Sciences, School of Medicine at the University of Zambia.

During the launch, the Hon. Dr. Kasonde noted that Zambia has succeeded in reducing maternal and child mortality, but further progress is necessary if the country is to meet the Millennium Development goals. Meeting these goals is dependent upon the alleviation of the human resource shortage within the health sector. “The help from the American government through NEPI could not have come at a better time than this,” said Dr. Kasonde.

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