Australia is working with nurses in the Pacific region to better prepare them to face the coming COVID-19 health challenges.
After seeing how other countries adapted their health workforce to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pacific nursing leaders identified that some nurses would be required to retrain so that they could fill critical care positions.
The Pacific Community (SPC), with funding assistance from the Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security, launched a package of COVID-19 response activities in June that included lab strengthening, infection prevention and control support, and nurse training.
Critical care is the first area of training being delivered to 114 nurses from 17 Pacific Island countries and territories by Australian online training provider Medcast. This training will increase the number of nurses who can act in a surge capacity to work in intensive care wards if COVID-19 cases increase.
Project Coordinator for Clinical Services Programs at SPC’s Public Health Division, Mabel Taoi says, “This training is a short course that will prepare nurses who don’t usually work in intensive care to prepare themselves for critical care work in intensive care units as we have a shortage of specialised intensive care nurses.”By mid-August, 79 nurses had completed the online coursework including Shivashna Chand who works in the cardiac coronary unit at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWMH) in Suva.
“This training has increased my knowledge in cardiac nursing while at the same time I have upgraded my knowledge in intensive care,” she says. “During this pandemic, it was important for us to expand our knowledge, especially during COVID-19 so that we can save lives and safeguard our own.”
Nurses from American Samoa, Cook Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Palau, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Tokelau and Vanuatu have enrolled in the course.
During the pandemic, it is important for nurses to have the capacity to respond and keep building their skills. The second area of training under the package supports the placement of 32 nurses in one-year postgraduate certificates in critical care with the Australian College of Nursing, boosting the emergency care capacity of the Pacific.
SPC is a key regional organisation in the Pacific and has been a crucial delivery partner during COVID-19. Australia’s support to SPC’s Public Health Division contributes to the long-term health security and stability in the Pacific region.
Photo Banner: Pacific nurses gather at the inaugural Pacific Heads of Nursing meeting in Suva, February 2020.
Story Photo: Shivashna Chand, nurse, Fiji.