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April 11, 2012

39 people who will change Ghana

The first paediatric nurses in West Africa

Celebrating the Graduation of the first Paediatric Nurses in West Africa

A huge white tent cast some welcome shade on the black-robed graduates from the University of Ghana’s College of Health Science.

In the crowd, waiting to receive their academic certificates were a group of extraordinary men and women – the first Paediatric Nurses in West Africa.

Within days, these experienced nurses will be returning to communities across Ghana, where they will provide specialized paediatric care to patients and families while training and mentoring their nursing colleagues and advocating for children’s health.

Jerry Dinku from the Paediatric Unit of Tamale Teaching Hospital in the country’s northern region, and one of 39 students who graduated from the Paediatric Nursing training program on March 31, says the program’s impact is immense. “We have been given insight into what we expect paediatric nurses to do. We have learned a lot  – we know where and how to direct care and the expected outcome of care.”   

Dinku and his colleagues are at the forefront in a fundamental shift in how Ghana is advancing child health through effective and sustainable paediatric education, says Kamla Sharma, Director, SickKids International. “The graduation is the culmination of years of hard work and vision by Ghanaian health-sector and academic leaders.”

A collaborative team comprised of Ghanaian and SickKids partners developed the paediatric nursing curriculum in alignment with accreditation requirements set out by the University of Ghana and the Nurses and Midwives Council of Ghana, and have been delivering the material.

Alberta Gyepi-Garbrah, a nurse in Korle Bu Teaching Hospital’s NICU, agrees that the program came at the right time for Ghanaian health care. “ It has raised our standards as nurses,” she says.

The Ghana-SickKids Paediatric Nursing Training Programme, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Charles and Rita Field-Marsham Foundation will train 140 nurses over three years, a step towards the ultimate target of training 1,000 to 1,500 paediatric nurses in Ghana over the next 10 to 15 years. The program is a partnership between SickKids, the University of Ghana’s School of Nursing, the Ghana Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.

For Professor Bamenla Goka, Head of Department of Child Health, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and a physician champion of the program from its inception, the program is an example of the multiple levels of collaboration that are necessary to effect change. Not only have the Ghanaian and SickKids members worked to develop a valuable program, but the members of the health care teams themselves – doctors and registered nurses in Ghana – are working together to instill the concepts being presented.

“I am more confident now and reenergized,” says Gloria Kaldi. Kaldi is a nurse from Princess Marie Louise Children’s Hospital, which provides nutritional rehabilitation care in Ghana’s capital Accra. “Because of this training, children will get well quickly and the smiles will be back on their faces.”  

Learn more about the Ghana-SickKids Paediatric Nurse Training Program.