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Health CS Kagwe says Nurses & Midwives are crucial UHC partners

…as the Nurse and Midwife Alliance of Kenya is unveiled

Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe

Critical stakeholders in the health sector have today launched the Nurse and Midwife Alliance, which is a platform that convenes all nurses and midwives in the country to facilitate the professional growth of the healthcare practice.

The stakeholders, spearheaded by the Ministry of Health, signed an MOU with the other partners to officially launch the Alliance.

Speaking at the launch, the Ministry of Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, who was accompanied by representatives from nursing and midwifery associations, the Nursing Council of Kenya and other stakeholders underscored the role of nurses and midwives. He noted that the efficiency of the health sector is highly dependent on the operational role of Midwives and Nurses in health facilities.

The Alliance, Kagwe, said will also serve as an investment towards attaining Universal Health Coverage across the country, as nurses and midwives play the essential role of primary health care prevention and follow-up. This includes prevention, early detection, and providing support for short-term conditions like pregnancy and long-term chronic diseases like Diabetes among others.

“Nurses and midwives are a crucial cogwheel in delivering healthcare services and complement the role of clinical officers and medical doctors among other health delivery players. Their actions and utterances can therefore determine the extent of patients’ access to health. In light of this critical role, the Nurse and Midwife Alliance aims to train and sensitize the members to facilitate a smooth experience in the patients’ and clients’ access to health, which is a basic human right.” Kagwe added.

With funding from Johnson & Johnson Foundation (JJF) through the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), the Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery(AKU-SONAM) is convening the Nurse and Midwife Alliance in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Nursing Council of Kenya(NCK), Kenya Progressive Nurses’ Association (KPNA), National Nurses Association of Kenya(NNAK), Midwives Association of Kenya (MAK), mHealth Kenya(MHK), Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA).

The Alliance brings together stakeholders in the clinical Midwifery & Nursing professions in Kenya. The Alliance has already commenced plans to formulate a Nursing and Midwifery Policy and Scheme of Service to profile, specify duties, and grade all levels of the Nursing and Midwifery functions. The Nursing & midwifery Policy and Scheme of Service will also feature a Scope of Practice to guide all health professionals on the roles and responsibilities of Nurses and Midwives in Kenya. 

Additionally, the Alliance seeks to position local nurses’ and midwives’ image and professional identity while developing strategies to achieve a public profile that reflects their scholarship and professionalism. 

The Alliance intends to achieve these objectives by improving the education, professional development, standards, regulation and terms of service for nurses and midwives. Similarly, the project intends to facilitate the staging of an annual Nursing and Midwifery award scheme.

Celebrating this new partnership, AKU-SONAM’s Dean in East Africa and Chair of NCK, Dr. Eunice Ndirangu-Mugo, shared that: “We have been working with Johnson & Johnson for the past 20 years to build the capacity of nurses and midwives in the region. J&J has supported us extensively by funding some of our most promising nurses and midwives. Also has supported the strengthening the professional nursing and midwifery associations in East Africa. As we embark on this new project that seeks to clarify the critical roles and responsibilities of nurses and midwives in Kenya in health care service delivery, we stand a good opportunity to enhance nursing and midwifery’s image and professional standing. In doing so, we will contribute to universal health coverage by improving the quality of healthcare and health outcomes of the population we serve.”

While acknowledging the importance of the partnership to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) goals, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Foundation Director Global Community impact for Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr. Anthony Gitau said the organization is leveraging a people-first model to deliver against its objectives for the Center of Health Worker innovation to champion and strengthen the front line, health workers. In this approach, the Nursing and Midwifery Alliance which is the first mutual impact platform for Nursing and Midwifery supported by J&J is focused on equipping nurses, midwives, and community health workers with the skills, resources, and support they need to improve the quality of care and strengthen primary and community-based health systems.

“At Johnson & Johnson Foundation, we are actively working to uplift the role of nurses and midwives as part of our commitment to supporting and championing the plight of the people at the heart of healthcare delivery front lines,” the Johnson & Johnson Foundation representative said.

The National Nurses Association of Kenya President Alfred Obengo said: “The launch of the nurses and midwives platform in Kenya marks a crucial milestone in the quest to elevate the role of the frontline healthcare service providers strategically. Through the platform, our members will harness professional development opportunities and enjoy the services of a grounded advocacy body that can both champion and advance their interests.”

On the other hand, Louisa Muteti Chairperson of the Midwives Association of Kenya said, “Midwives play a critical role in the health care service delivery.  This is more notable in preparing families for pregnancy, care for them during pregnancy, childbirth and post -delivery especially for health promotion in Information, Education and communication in the lifecycle. It is our vision to see a Kenya where every woman and every newborn has quality midwifery care. We are delighted with the launch of the Nurses and Midwife Alliance and the promise it holds to all who educate, research and practice midwifery care and the general public who are our clients’ as a whole.”

The Kenya Progressive Nurses’ Association Chairperson Michael Nyongesa stated, “As an association, we are delighted by the launch of the Alliance as it is in line with our objectives which include the advancement of the nursing professionals and achieving positive health outcomes in the public interest. We also seek to promote profession-led regulation in the public interest and we believe that this Alliance will help us achieve this.”

Apart from humanizing the sector, the Alliance will also serve as a professional development catalyst for its members by introducing a formal scheme of service with scope to guide individual careers. 

The Alliance is also expected to roll out continuous civic education for nurses and midwives, sensitizing humane, compassionate, and dignified patient/ client care in promoting the patient’s / client’s dignity through respect, empathy, courtesy, advocacy, and access to a short turnaround in the handling of Clients’ / patients. 

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