And all the children in Ghana will be smiling

The Ghana-SickKids Paediatric Nursing Training Programme, the first of its kind in Ghana and West Africa, aims to train up to 1,500 paediatric nurses in the country by 2015. There are currently no paediatric nurses in Ghana, and very few paediatricians to care for the country’s 8 million children.

SickKids, together with its Ghanaian partners, has developed a curriculum to educate experienced nurses in specialized paediatric care. The first cohort of 40 nurses was chosen from across the country after a rigorous interview process. These 40 are expected to return to their home hospitals, clinics and institutions to train and share knowledge with their colleagues in paediatric care.

Stephanie de Young, Nursing Project Manager, Global Child Health Program, gave a summary of the project’s achievements to date:

  • Developed a ‘train the trainer’ curriculum to prepare paediatric nurses in Ghana
  • Received Academic Approvals and Professional Accreditation of the Certificate Programme
  • Launched the first semester of classes, the  clinical practicums and leadership development courses

Pat Malloy, a SickKids Advanced Practice Nurse and Co-Lead Educator with the project, admitted that she initially had doubts about what SickKids could teach these skilled and experienced nurses, some of whom have 30 years of experience. “I was nervous the first time I took the podium,” she told the crowd. “But when we began to discuss the curriculum, we really began to share knowledge. It was incredible.”

SickKids staff are co‐teaching the courses with lecturers from the School of Nursing, University of Ghana and paediatricians from the Department of Child Health, at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.

Dr. Isaac Odame, SickKids Staff Haematologist and Medical Director for the Global Sickle Cell Disease Network, spoke about the partnership’s genesis and the importance of training nurses. He also addressed the impact that educators such as Malloy are having in Ghana. “You are empowering these women and men to go beyond nursing to become advocates for children at every level.”

For Provost Lawson, the partnership is an unequivocal success story. “This is a flagship program,” he said, anticipating the day when the University of Ghana would also be able to offer Masters and PhD programs in paediatric nursing.

The Ghana-SickKids Global Child Health Program is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and SickKids Foundation.