Ugandan Nursing Students Garner AAN Award for Innovation and Sustainability in Health Worker Safety in the Context of COVID

The Students’ Association of Kampala International University (KIU) School of Nursing took on the challenge of PPE shortages, designing & producing reusable facemasks for health workers (HCWs). 

The WHO urges all stakeholders to “Speak up for health worker safety!”

Ishaka-Bushenyi, Uganda, September 2020: The Covid Africa Action Network for Nurses and Nurses Midwives (AAN) is honoured  to announce that the KIU School of Nursing Students Association is the recipient of its inaugural Award for Innovation and Sustainability in Health Worker Safety, for its trailblazing work designing & producing safe, reusable medical masks for HCWs.

Working under the leadership of Dean Annet Kabanyaro, the Nursing Student’s Association launched an innovative, sustainable local production of evidence-based, reusable medical masks to help address the PPE gap for Ugandan health care workers. They also benefitted from close  consultation with expert epidemiologist Dr Janine Jagger of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, and the KIU Textiles Department.  Within 4 weeks of receiving a modest grant from AAN, the students produced more than 130, 000 reusable medical masks and delivered them to local healthcare facilities and healthcare workers, addressing the local lack of PPE and vanishing stockpiles.

“Disposable PPE simply cannot be sustained, stated Dr. Janine Jagger. The ‘global stockpile’ consisted of what was in hospital storerooms when COVID hit. Poof – It was used up in days. There is no other way to stockpile and ensure safety than with reusables.”

The Students’ Association continues to produce and supply reusable PPE, responding to the growing awareness that single-use, disposable PPEs beget disappearing stockpiles and create an unacceptable rise in health care waste, greatly exacerbated during this COVID pandemic. 

AAN applauds the World Health Organization for urging all stakeholders to “Speak up for health worker safety!” on the occasion of World Patient Safety Day.  WHO acknowledges that the pandemic has unveiled the huge challenges and risks health workers are facing globally including health care-associated infections, violence, stigma, psychological and emotional disturbances, illness, and even death.