Nurses are a critical group in the health workforce and are often the first point of contact for people seeking help in the health care system. Therefore, they not only need quality training, but the training needs to be contextualized to the needs of the local population.
The FORCE project
The FORCE project in Mali is working to strengthen the quality of training for nurses and midwives to improve the provision of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) care for young people and adolescents.
Based on a situation analysis of the different stakeholders involved, the FORCE project has helped public and private schools to insert issues on SRHR, as well as gender and social inclusion, into the curriculum of bachelor level nurses.
The project also assisted private schools and the Ministries of Health and National Education to review and revise the old curriculum of health technicians – a lower cadre of nurses and midwives who make up one-third of the health workforce.
“The FORCE project has made a positive contribution to improving the quality of training in Mali. SRHR, gender, and social inclusion are important themes that teachers should trained on and able to discuss as they have the duty to formulate future agents of health.” – Dramane DAO, FORCE Project Coordinator
Training the Trainers
Teachers have been trained on SRHR and ‘competency-based learning’, which has enabled them to use active learning and teaching methods and better assist the students in their studies.
As there were often too many students in some health institutions, which is not conducive to learning, a mapping of possible places for internships has also been completed. The Ministries of Health and National Education have now agreed that under certain conditions, private health institutions can also provide internships. As previous collaboration was mostly informal and often by word of mouth, a standard formal agreement regarding internships between schools and the health institutions has been developed, which can be used by both public and private health schools.
Tackling Gender-Based Violence
The issue of how to deal appropriately with complaints of gender-based violence (GBV), whether from within the education system itself or in students’ lives, was covered in lessons and also taken into account when formulating the internship agreements.
Teachers now feel much more able to discuss sensitive topics, and the students have responded to the changes by asking more questions and being more engaged in the learning process.
With these new agreements and learning structures in place, it is hoped that the standard of teaching will increase and that graduates will be better able to serve their communities.
“As the director of the FORCE project and having worked extensively with our Malian partners, I am particularly proud that we have completed the upgrade of the nurses’ curriculum. The integration of topics such as early pregnancy, contraception, HIV and sexually transmitted infections, and gender-based violence, will help nurses provide better services to adolescents and youth. It was a pleasure to work with all the partners in Mali and I was impressed with the strength and diligence of everyone’s work.” – Prisca Zwanikken, KIT Advisor.