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The Challenges of Building Capacity: Nursing Education in Eritrea

Author(s): A. D. Ogbaghebriel*2, G. G. Yohannes2
Affiliation(s): 1Pharmacology, Asmara College of Health Sciences, Asmara, Eritrea, 2Nursing, Asmara College of Health Sciences, Asmara
Keywords: Nursing education, capacity building, Eritrea, specialized nurses, upgrading curriculum
Background:

Nurses provide the majority of health care services to the population of Eritrea. In some health facilities, nurses are the sole providers. For this reason, nurses are expected to play a major role in achieving the MDGs. Considering their vital role in the health care system, the government of Eritrea recognizes the need to enhance the nursing capacity through education. Nursing education in Eritrea dates back to 1955 conducted at junior and secondary levels of education. Currently all nursing education is conducted at post-secondary level.Education of nurses is directly linked to the competency of providing care. However, currently in Eritrea, regardless of level of training, all nurses have considerable responsibility for clinical decision making. Therefore, there is a need to better align education to responsibilities. Midwifery is a special issue in Eritrea’s nursing education, because most pre and post natal care as well as deliveries are done by nurse midwives.

Methods:

Review of files of the School of Nursing of Asmara College of Health Sciences and data from Health Information System of the Eritrean Ministry of Health.

Results/Conclusions:

There is a demand for both increased numbers and nurses for higher responsibility in the Eritrean health care system. The demand for coverage is addressed by increasing class sizes, and that of higher level of responsibility by training specialized nurses with strong basic sciences base. The later also addresses the issue of career ladder in nursing. Major challenges in training include shortage of qualified instructors and large class sizes without proportional increase in resources. As solutions, upgrading faculty using innovative methods, and using innovative ways to access quality teaching materials electronically are implemented. Support systems are utilized to retain students through graduation. Nurses are trained along with other health workforce to foster better work relationships later. The use of innovative methods and responsive curricula are contributing greatly to the development of the nursing profession and the improvement of nursing services in Eritrea.

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