The development of critical care nursing education in Zambia

Chris Carter*, Priscar Sakala Mukonka, Lilian Jere Sitwala, Barbara Howard-Hunt, Joy Notter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-505
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Nursing
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 2020


C ritical care services are key components of modern healthcare delivery, with qualified and specialist nurses described as the core of service provision (Marshall et al, 2017). Globally, there is known to be a shortage of qualified nurses, and Zambia is recognised as having what the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies as a severe shortage (WHO,2020).In addition, in Zambia, specialist fields of nursing practice such as critical care are relatively new (WHO, 2020), and across the country there are fewer than 200 trained critical care nurses (Ministry of Health (MoH),2017).Zambia continues to face a high burden of disease,despite making progress in many of the internationally recognised indicators for HIV,malaria,under-five child mortality and maternal mortality ratio (MoH, 2017). In consequence, the achievement of targets set by the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (2015) and the MoH,as well as the move to universal access to healthcare,will be delayed. As critical care is one of the few specialties that bridges both communicable and non-communicable diseases, it is essential that critical care services be prioritised when considering the allocation of resources. One of the most urgent priorities in critical care is the shortfall of critical care nurses.To meet the demands of this shortfall,access trained and experienced doctors,critical care nurses are often to high-quality nurse education is required to provide specialised the only professional group represented in intensive care units nurses to staff critical care units throughout the country.This (ICUs) throughout the country.This is of concern because, article will provide a review of the activities undertaken that led within many African countries,nurseshavetraditionallybeen to the development of the revised critical care nurse education deemed subservient to doctors and, in some instances, the programme in preparation for the transition to a bachelor’s profession is seen only as a technical trade (Bultemeier, 2012). level qualification.To achieve these activities,a multidisciplinary This has resulted in there being little focus on the education stakeholder event that included representation from the MoH, and training of nurses, with far less attention being given to General Nursing Council of Zambia (GNCZ),Zambian Union developing specialist nursing roles such as critical care. of Nursing Organisations (ZUNO), the University of Zambia (UNZA),the Lusaka College of Nursing (LUCON),the Ndola College of Nursing and an interdisciplinary panel of expert critical care nurses, renal specialist nurses, midwives and anaesthetists from the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka were involved in the review and validation events. Support was provided by experts from Birmingham City University in the UK.This activity was part funded through the UK Department for International Development’s (DFID) Health Partnership Scheme (HPS), and latterly by Johnson & Johnson’s Africa Grants Programme. The need for this project was identified by Zambian stakeholders who recognised that there was a need to increase and enhance critical care services to meet the needs of the nation.In Zambia,due to the limited number of critical care-

FundersFunder number
Johnson and Johnson
Birmingham City University
Department for International Development, UK Government


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