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New module added to nursing curriculum

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Lungelo Ndhlovu Bulawayo Bureau

With support from the World Health Organisation, its partners and the UK’s Fleming Fund, the Ministry of Health and Child Care has introduced an antimicrobial resistance (AMR) module in the nursing school curriculum for registered general nurses, primary care nurses, and midwifery, beginning next year.

This approach recognises the critical role that caregivers – nurses and midwifery in particular – play in the management and prevention of AMR, given their pivotal function as a liaison between the community and the healthcare facility.

As of last month, seven experts had trained a total of 106 registered nurses, primary care nurses, and midwifery educators from the country’s northern and southern regions on topics such as AMR in HIV, AMR in malaria, AMR in fungal, AMR in bacteria, sample collection, the role of nurses in the fight against AMR, the structure of bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, and antimicrobial stewardship.

Professor Jean-Marie Dangou, the acting WHO representative in Zimbabwe, said WHO partnered with the Ministry using resources from the UK’s Fleming Fund to ensure that nursing school educators are included in AMR activities.

“Recognising the crucial role of nurses in the fight against AMR, WHO actively supported this integration by training 106 nursing educators on effectively delivering the new AMR module. This proactive approach equips educators with the necessary skills and knowledge to confidently guide students through the intricacies of AMR prevention and control,” said Prof Dangou.

Prof Dangou said by prioritising AMR education for nurses, the Zimbabwean government was working to establish a more robust healthcare system that ensures essential antibiotic drugs continue to remain effective. Bacteria can become drug-resistant when people take incorrect doses of antibiotics or if antibiotics are used unnecessarily.

“The WHO also helped to mobilise resources for Zimbabwe’s AMR program. The UK government provided financial assistance to the Republic of Zimbabwe through the Fleming Fund and the AMR Multi Partners Trust Fund,” Prof Dangou explained.

The introduction of an AMR module to the nursing school curriculums according to the Ministry of Health and Child Care officials, represented a step forward in the programme’s sustainability because nurses who are knowledgeable about AMR can educate the public about the issue, allowing the country to better deal with the rising scourge of AMR.

Speaking at the world antimicrobial resistance awareness week Africa commemoration (WAAW, 2023) in Harare recently, the Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Douglas Mombeshora said the government is dedicated to maintaining the prevention and control of AMR as a top priority.

Several initiatives had been carried out since the launch of the Zimbabwe One Health National Action Plan (NAP) in September 2017, including the renovation and equipping of seven human health laboratories, human resource technical capacitation, review of the Infection, prevention and control policy, updating of the infection, prevention and control strategy and monitoring and evaluation framework, inclusion of AMR modules in the nursing curriculums and the establishment of one health structures.

“Several awareness activities have been implemented to disseminate information on the dangers of AMR, as well as implementing the steps that should be taken to avert it. Zimbabwe is in the process of reviewing and finalising the country’s antimicrobial resistance one health national action plan,” the minister said.

A £4 million grant from the UK’s Fleming Fund supported the Ministry of Health and Child Care in improving the capacity of the seven laboratories mandated to analyse target pathogens, said Dr Mombeshora.

“The AMR multi-partner trust fund’s contribution amounting to US$1 million from Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, and the UK government, provides support to several strategic priorities in the antimicrobial resistance national action plan. Some of the activities implemented with the support of the grant include the development of a national infection prevention and control policy, infection prevention and control strategy, monitoring and evaluation framework as well as adapting the IPC training guidelines or training manuals.

“The International Centre for Antimicrobial Resistance Solutions contribution of US$600 000 from the Denmark government, provides support to allow the Ministry of Health and Child Care to measure how antibiotics are being used in selected districts in Zimbabwe and develop evidence-based interventions,” he said.

According to studies, AMR is now the leading cause of death, killing far more people than HIV and malaria combined. AMR-related disease result in longer hospital stays and a higher budgetary burden. Antimicrobial abuse and overuse are among the primary causes of drug-resistant organism evolution.

One of the main causes of AMR in Zimbabwe is the misuse and abuse of antibiotics. Zimbabwe created the one health AMR national action plan, which intends to strengthen regulations surrounding AMC in order to stop the development of AMR, in order to solve these and other significant gaps.

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