12. May 2022

WDF projects invest in nurses around the world

WDF projects invest in nurses around the world

Gwendolyn Carleton
This International Nurses Day, WDF offers updates from three of its many partnership projects working to build nursing capacity in NCD care.
A nurse trained via a WDF partnership in Uzbekistan conducts a diabetic foot exam. Photo by Jesper Westley.

International Nurses Day is celebrated worldwide every May 12, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth. This year’s theme from the International Council of Nurses is Nurses: A Voice to Lead - Invest in nursing and respect rights to secure global health.

It is a theme that resonates with WDF, which has trained more than 110,000 nurses through its partnership projects since 2002.

Below is a closer look at three projects of different sizes, approaches and locations that all are investing in nurses around the world.

Nurse-led Continuum of Care Approach for Addressing Diabetes in Nepal

The ambitious aim of this small-scale project was to create a continuum of care model for diabetes care (from community level to health facility and back), where each step and activity was coordinated by nurses. 

It was developed and rolled out by Dhulikhel Hospital, a private not-for-profit hospital with a history of developing service delivery models, located in the outskirts of the Kathmandu Valley. 

The model included a diabetes care protocol and clinical guideline. The idea was that trained nurses would lead the implementation and function as a care coordinator. They would arrange outreach and screening at the community level, refer positive cases for diagnosis and management, monitor people with diabetes and arrange community activities with them. 

The project, which recently closed, achieved many goals and targets despite the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic – and uncovered areas where the model could be improved, for example by clarifying the patient pathway and structuring workplans for the nurses.

“Important groundwork has been done to develop and implement a nurse-led model for diabetes prevention and care. In particular, high quality training materials and protocols have been developed and endorsed, which could be useful for future capacity building efforts in Nepal,” says WDF Programme Manager Mette Skar, who visited the project in 2019.

Nurse training conducted during the Nurse Led Continuum of Care project.

Integrating diabetes services in tertiary and secondary healthcare facilities in Liberia

Liberia’s health care system has faced more than its share of challenges. A prolonged civil war was followed by the Ebola epidemic of 2014-15, leaving the country’s health system badly damaged. The two traumas have resulted in loss of life, infrastructure, and trained healthcare professionals – especially doctors.

“In Liberia, nurses and physicians’ assistants have stepped up to fill the gap,” says Mikkel Pape Dysted, WDF Associate Programme Manager. “They have been given a big responsibility, and they can lift it.”

This Ministry of Health-led national project is working to reduce diabetes-related morbidity and mortality by integrating and improving diabetes services during routine healthcare delivery at secondary and tertiary health facilities across Liberia. It is working to improve diabetes care in 26 clinics across the country, and builds on Community Based Diabetes Care - a pilot project in the Ganta area of Liberia that is now completed.

The current project aims to train 842 healthcare professionals – 700 of them nurses, physician assistants and midwives – reaching a catchment population of nearly 500,000 people.

Mr Dysted, who recently visited the project and met with partners from the Ministry of Health and Ganta United Methodist Hospital, said the project is off to a strong start. He notes that the creation and staffing of the 26 clinics has strong support from hospital management, and that the nurses recruited for the project are motivated and well-trained.

“They have an excellent connection with the patients, keep well-organised registers, and are collaborating well with other hospital wards, including emergency and maternity services,” he said, adding:

“The people I met were very empathetic, and good at bringing health information down to earth. I look forward to seeing how this project develops.”

A Liberian nurse speaks with Mikkel Pape Dysted from WDF and Emmanuel Kpon Saye from Ganta United Methodist Hospital.

Improving prevention and control of NCDs in Primary Care in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan

This large regional project, launched late in 2021, is working to improve clinical practice and quality of care through clinical monitoring, training, and supportive supervision at the primary level.

Its approach is based on capacity building of 12 ‘local care teams’ (incl. a nurse, a family doctor, a community pharmacist, a specialist, a technician and a patient representative) in clinical protocols for integrated management of NCDs with a focus on diabetes, CVDs and hypertension and team-based care. 

The project, which is a partnership with WHO Regional Office for Europe, will be piloting and scaling implementation of WHO NCD ‘Best Buys’ to improve the control of NCDs and prevent complications.

“This project is building on work that WHO and WDF have been doing for some years in this region, to build capacity among health care professionals,” Ms. Skar says. “A key focus is to enhance the role of nurses in NCD care.”

A review of the role and practice of nurses is now under way, she says; when completed, a new set of NCD guidelines for nurses will be rolled out in both countries.