09 December 2021 – Geneva, Switzerland: The Covid Africa Action Network for Nurses and Nurse-Midwives (AAN) and the AAN Award Committee* are honored to announce that the Reproductive Health Network Kenya (RHNK) and the Technical University of Kenya (TUK) are the recipients of the 2021 Award for Innovation and Sustainability in Health Worker Safety.
With funding from AAN and in partnership with the Technical University of Kenya (TUK),** and led by RHNK Executive Director Nelly Munyasia RN MSc, and Dr Edison Omollo PhD, the RHNK project developed, produced, and distributed high performance, evidence-based reusable masks for nurses and nurse-midwives working with vulnerable and hard to reach populations in Kenya.
Through this RHNK-TUK collaboration, fabric specifications were analysed, fabric procurement planned, and production processes developed to ensure that quality for production of masks for nurses, nurse-midwives, and the community. In laboratory testing by Nelson Labs (nelsonlabs.org) and the Kenyan Bureau of Standards, the RHNK masks performed to high standards for microbial cleanliness, synthetic blood penetration, and bacterial filtration efficiency.
In terms of sustainability, these masks can be used over a longer period of time by nurses, ensuring low exposure to the COVID virus and a reduction of negative environmental impact from single-use masks. Additionally, through this project, RHNK and TUK signed an MoU that clearly defines the mask production engagement, beyond AAN project funding. AAN Awards Committee Chairperson, Makholu Lebaka noted that “the project design was clearly stipulated to produce high performance, evidence-based reusable masks for nurses and other HCWs.“
The runner-up for the Award was the AAN Somalia project, designed and led by the Women Empowerment and Development Organisation (WED0). The Award Committee noted the success of the Somalia project in its distribution of the reusable facemasks and outreach to vulnerable groups, Internally Displaced Peoples camps, to nurses and midwives working on frontline Covid response at hospitals and health care centers in Somalia and also creating public health education tools. “The Committee felt the WEDO story is a powerful and worthwhile one,” said Award Chairperson Makholu Lebaka.
The AAN Award for Innovation and Sustainability in Health Worker Safety will be bestowed on RHNK and TUK at a special virtual ceremony in December 2021.
The COVID Africa Action Network for Nurses & Nurse-Midwives (AAN) is a global, all-volunteer group of health care professionals, working to support nurses & nurse-midwives fighting the COVID pandemic in Eswatini, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Zanzibar, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. For further information: www.africactionetwork.com or contact Linda Carrier-Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Makholu Lebaka, Lesotho (Chairperson); Christine Hancock, UK; Francis Supparayen, Mauritius; Gustav Moyo, Tanzania
** Department of Fashion, Clothing and Textiles