Flushed faces and excited voices could be seen and heard from the gates of Amref Health Africa Headquarters on 6 December 2016. 393 students of Amref Health Africa, accompanied by their family members who came to witness the fruits of their hard work, received their certificates, diplomas and degrees.
“We are proud of all the graduands and appreciate their hard work,” stated Dr Nzomo Mwita, the Acting Head of Monitoring and Evaluation and Technical Specialist – Training and Master of Ceremony of the day.
In attendance was Dr Miriam Were who is the Chancellor of Moi University, and also an Amref Ambassador. “I am encouraged by the number of graduands here today. We welcome you into the service as you increase the number of health workers in the country and in Africa in general,” she encouraged. The addition of more health care workers aims to help in the realisation of Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG 3); Good Health and Wellbeing, which is one of the core SDGs that drive Amref Health Africa.
The event, which attracted representatives from the Ministry of Health in Kenya, the Ministry of Health in Zimbabwe, the University of Nairobi and the Directorate of Nursing Services in Kenya among others, was the 30th graduation of its kind. With over seven countries in Africa represented, it was clear that the training imparted by Amref Health Africa would benefit Africa as a whole and not just Kenya.
Dr Fred Matiang’i, the Cabinet Secretary for Education in Kenya, expressed his confidence in the training offered by Amref Health Africa. “I have no doubt in my mind that they will use the myriads of skills and competencies acquired to turn around the glim statistics that we read about every day. You are equipped to make the difference! Why should this country lose 362 mothers for every 10,000 deliveries? You must change this! You must make a difference,” he articulated through Dr Chacha Nyaigotti Chacha, who represented him in the event.
Dr Matiang’i acknowledged and appreciated Amref Health Africa’s efforts towards transitioning into the Amref International University. “I applaud you on being visionary and responsive to societal needs. The continent of Africa has a shortage of more than 800,000 health workers. We need to increase our health workforce by 140% to meet the health needs of our people. You will, therefore, be filling a glaring gap in the training of health workers. You already know how; as demonstrated here today. I wish you success in your application for the Letter of Interim Authority,” he asserted.
Also present during the graduation was Dr Peter Ngatia, the Director for Training who affirmed that Amref has been using innovative solutions such as the eLearning and mLearning platforms to boost learning. His sentiments were echoed by Mrs Ednah Tallam Kimaiyo, the Registrar of the Nursing Council of Kenya who congratulated both the students and Amref Health Africa for their efforts.
“I thank Amref for showing us the way by using innovation in the classroom for effective and efficient learning. We need 35,000 midwives and nurses in Kenya today to realise our dreams as set out in the Kenya Vision 2030. Amref is significantly helping the country realise this dream, and for this, we are grateful. As you plan on transitioning into the Amref International University, know that you have the full support of the Nursing Council of Kenya,” she explained amid applause.
Speaking on behalf of the Group CEO, Dr Githinji Gitahi, and as the Chair of the Amref Health Africa in Kenya Board, Professor Richard Muga extended good wishes to the graduands in their careers. “The theme of the graduation today is Accelerating attainment of sustainable development through higher learning. This theme takes cognisance of the fact that education is fundamental to our wellbeing. At Amref, we truly believe that an educated population “manufacturers health at home and in communities and only takes it for repair in hospitals,” expressed Dr Gitahi.