“What is the point of having ventilators in Africa if no one knows how to operate them?” Nicole
Nicole is a public health nurse at Monkole Hospital and Director of Nursing at ISSI nursing school. She has been working at ISSI, our local partner, for over 20 years and has helped to train hundreds of nurses in DR Congo and gives us a glimpse of the reality of the Covid-19 situation in Kinshasa, DR Congo.
Nicole tells us about the effects of COVD in her own words:
“In DRC, the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed on the of March 2020 in Kinshasa and now, the DRC has become one of the worst affected countries in Africa. Confronted with Covid-19, African countries are facing a global pandemic not just without equipment and PPE, but also without well-trained medical personnel. The WHO has asked again for investment in the training of nurses, at this time. Skilled nurses are at the forefront in responding to a health crisis such as coronavirus and core to achieving sustainable development.
At ISSI, where I work, we have been lucky to receive support from professionals abroad who have invested in our staff and teachers’ skills. ISSI is recognized as the best nursing school in DR Congo. But we are constantly struggling to convince donors that they should invest in training nurses when they see DR Congo’s lack of hospitals – we are one of Africa’s poorest countries despite our vast mineral wealth.
Even our insufficient number of hospitals are unable to operate at capacity because of a lack of trained staff. We need to fund scholarships for nurses to train, in a country where 77% of people live in extreme poverty. We need to provide training for qualified nurses to become instructors so that our local capacity to educate enough nurses to cater to a population of over 85 million is developed.
Training medical professionals will ultimately result in reducing Africa’s less dependence on the West. It is not so much advanced technologies that we need to save the lives of our fellow citizens: we need to be equipped to recognize an emergency situation and know the actions to be taken; we need to be trained in preventing the diseases that continue to kill our children, one in five of whom are dying in infancy; we need to know the basics of hygiene, in a country where the understanding of handwashing is low, etc.
In a word, we need training. Being a country with few resources, we must put more emphasis on training to avoid a new health disaster.”