Introducing Edinburgh University’s IGNITE programme

A cohort of nine midwives has just been funded by the Burdett Trust and the University of Edinburgh, as part of Edinburgh Global Nursing Initiative’s IGNITE programme, which is directly addressing the skills shortage in Liberia by providing clinical obstetrics training to nurses and midwives working in the community. This approach is called task-sharing, which simply put means redistributing duties usually reserved for higher-qualified medical professionals to those who are more likely to be performing the day-to-day care. Nurses and midwives who can provide holistic care and can expand their scope of practice through advances education and training. The benefits can be far-reaching. Once they complete their training, they will return to their own rural county to work at the county hospital. The training is appropriately licensed and regulated, a step that is especially needed to counter scepticism from a community of doctors that may already be uneasy about relinquishing control to nurses.

“Task-sharing enables staff to have the skills to save the lives of mothers and babies when things go wrong,” says Dr Rhona MacDonald, MCAI’s Honorary Executive Director and Chair of the Trustees. “Our three-year advanced obstetrics programme trains midwives in advanced obstetrics care, including abdominal surgery for C-Sections and we also run a two-year programme for nurses in advanced neonatal care, which means when that girl goes into hospital to have her baby, she knows she is going to get the healthcare she needs if she has any complications.”

“The programme is about championing the role of nurses at the heart of communities. If nurses are educated, enabled, and empowered they can make a huge difference and save lives,” says Dr MacDonald.

As well as working with Maternal and Childhealth Advocacy International on maternal and neo-natal health, the IGNITE programme is also supporting the provision of specialist training for nurses who are treating and caring for women who have experienced complex sexual trauma in war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Among the hospitals featured in the project is the Panzi Hospital, founded by Nobel Prize winner Dr Denis Mukwege to treat survivors of war-related violence.

In Uganda, IGNITE will support work between the University of Edinburgh, The Ugandan Ministry of Health and the Uganda Chief Nurse to train nurses in the clinical skills to deliver quality palliative care to reduce suffering experienced by those at the end of their life.

IGNITE is just one example of how the Edinburgh Global Nursing Initiative is creating partnerships to drive change and address global health challenges drawing from academic expertise from the University’s Nursing Studies and Global Health Academy teams.

“As a nurse I know personally the privilege and joy it brings, however not everyone across the globe has access to healthcare, often meaning the difference between life and death, joy or pain. It’s not acceptable for us as human beings to sit back and do nothing. The Edinburgh Global Nursing Initiative through partnerships with people and organisations who share the same values and vision, are doing something to make a difference” said Professor Aisha Holloway, Head of Nursing Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

The root of the Edinburgh Global Nursing Initiative, Ayisha says, is to develop projects that invest in nurses and midwives and build meaningful partnerships to grow in-country capacity that is sustainable, scalable and able to address the needs of patients and people who use care services. To create a lifeline, to show we care.

“It will help propel nurses and midwives as drivers of change and to help them actively contribute and lead in making a better world for all. We are proud to be part of the global push to promote the role and sphere of frontline healthcare worker. However we cannot do this on our own, we can only do this through partnerships, support and collaboration.”

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