The world faces a projected shortage of nearly five million nurses and midwives. Nurses are at the heart of a patient-centered health care system, and provide everything from patient education to vaccinations. Nurses are essential to maintaining the health of individuals, families, and communities – even beyond the hospital.
Importantly, without enough nurses and midwives, we weaken an important line of defense in keeping mothers and babies malaria-free. Malaria infection during pregnancy poses many risks to the mother, her unborn fetus, and the newborn. And prevention and treatment of malaria for pregnant mothers is essential to reducing the risk to mother and baby.
Volunteer Nurse Educators Eunice Kimunai and Courtney Hines helped to address this in Tanzania. In collaboration with the Dean of Nursing School at the University of Dodoma, Dr. Stephen Kibusi, they published a paper that examines factors leading to pregnant women taking preventative medications outlined in the intermittent-preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy (IPTp) policy adopted by the country in 2000.
Analyzing secondary data, they found that uptake of IPTp is related to demographic factors such as age, rural vs. urban residence, education level, marital status, and occupation, as well as intermediate factors such as access to information and health care services.
They were excited to be collaborating with local faculty to share this important information. And most importantly, they wanted to pass this crucial information on to their students.
“Nurses play a very important role in keeping individuals and families healthy even beyond the hospital. We want our students to be informed before they go out into their communities,” says Courtney.
As Eunice explained, “When pregnant women visit regional hospitals or local health clinics to receive prenatal care, it can often be one the first time they have received health care services. It is important to take advantage of this moment, to not only provide them care, but educate them on topics like malaria prevention”
Integrating the paper into their curriculum, they used the findings in classroom lectures and skills lab sessions. Using the information from the study, students were taught best practices on educating expectant mothers on malaria prevention.
“The goal was to have our students use evidence based medicine to inform their specific interventions, she said, “and to use research to influence their practices as nurses and future educators.”