Amref Health Africa Celebrates 28th Graduation of Health Workers

A total of 5,000 health workers have been trained this year to help ease Africa’s high disease burden
Nairobi, December 8, 2014…Amref Health Africa today held its 28th graduation for health workers at its Headquarters and International Training Centre in Nairobi, at a ceremony presided over the Chairperson of the Kenya Public Service Commission, Prof Margaret Kobia.

A total of 227 students graduated at today’s event, including 95 nurses who had been upgraded from certificate to diploma level through eLearning, 23 Diploma in Community Health Students and 16 Diploma in Reproductive Health students. The graduates represented 5000 health workers of in 2014 through various short- and long-term courses including, Monitoring and Evaluation, Community Health, Comprehensive Midwifery, Advocacy, Health Systems Research, Health Systems Strengthening, and Leadership and Management.

In her keynote address, Dr Kobia noted that strong health systems are founded on capabilities and competencies of the health workforce, hence the importance of producing.well trained, motivated and passionate health workers. For successful delivery of quality health care, she added, the health sector workforce must be sufficiently equipped with technical and overarching competiencies, commitment to serve, good governance, transparency and accountability.

Dr Kobia commended the leadership of Amref Health Africa for propelling the organisation to the forefront of addressing pertinent gaps in Africa’s health systems, particularly the supply of education and training that target mid-level health workers.

The application of innovative educational strategies and approaches in eLeaning, mLearning and telemedicine to scale and skill up health worker training and to provide health services puts Amref Health Africa in a class of its own among health development NGOs,” she said. She singled out upgrading of nurses using eLearning and training of community health workers using mobile phone technology.”

Speaking at the event, Amref Health Africa Director General Dr Teguest Guerma reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment to reversing Africa’s poor health trends. “Africa has 25 per cent of the global health burden and only three per cent the world’s health workers,” she noted. The continent, she added, needs a well motivated and skilled health workforce operating with functional health delivery infrastructure to tackle its health burden.” To help close this gap, Amref Health Africa trains thousands of health professionals every year through a variety of academic and continuous professional development courses targeting all levels of health care providers with the aim of improving their skills and scaling up their capacity.

Dr Guerma noted, however, that while there are critical human resources for health shortages on the continent, hundreds of trained health professionals remain unemployed because governments cannot afford to hire them. “The result is that many of our nurses and doctors working in developed countries, yet we have serious shortages of this precious resource in our countries. That is why Amref Health Africa continues to advocate with governments to honour the pledge they made in Abuja in 2001 to allocate at least 15 per cent of national budgets to health. If they honoured this pledge, governments would be able to employ more health workers, including nurses and midwives, to help ease the continent’s health burden.”

The theme of this year’s graduation was ‘Closing the gap: Transforming Health Professionals Education for lasting Health Change in Africa’. Amref Health Africa’s Director of Capacity Building, Dr Peter Ngatia, noted that there had been tremendous growth over the last 50 years – from one training programme covering only three of the original East African Community countries, to multiple training programmes covering over 35 African countries. “We will not stop until we paint this continent with the footprints of Amref Health Africa!” he said.

Dr Ngatia added: “Buoyed by a student success rate of over 90 per cent, this 28th graduation ceremony is a celebration of 227 graduands from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. We also acknowledge those students who have successfully completed the Masters in Public Health and Bachelor of Science in Community Health programmes, which Amref Health Africa is offering in partnership with Moi University and Kenya Methodist University respectively.”

Partnerships, said Dr Ngatia, were critical for the success of initiatives to increase the numbers and skills of health workers. “Amref Health Africa is proud to work with like-minded institutions and Ministries of Health to offer seamless access to training opportunities for all health professionals, including those living in poor and marginalised areas.”