The Nursing Council of Kenya has suspended nursing programmes in three colleges in a continued purge on medical colleges offering illegal and substandard courses.
Over the past four days, NCK shut down colleges in Nairobi, Eldoret and Kisumu in the crackdown that targets nearly 30 others over non-compliance with minimum requirements to offer nursing courses.
Non-registered colleges, unapproved courses, lack of curriculum, lack of or underqualified lecturers and poor administration structures are some of the substandard practices the council is looking to weed out.
Eldoret’s Excel Management Institute had its entire nursing programme scrapped after they were found to be offering Nursing Aid – a non-registered course – and Community Health without accreditation. Nairobi’s Beam International was also found to be offering non-certified nursing programmes.
In Kisumu, Uzima University which is licensed to offer a bachelor’s degree in nursing was illegally offering a diploma in the same, with 43 students having covered one year. Their fate now lies in the balance after the regulatory body struck out the programme and sent them packing.
Maseno Nursing School run by Maseno Mission Hospital escaped the council's wrath the raiding team found them to have complied with conditions set for them in July last year. The council had frozen intake over poor compliance with the minimum requirements but the college had in four months raced to meet and surpass these conditions to escape closure.
The purge led by NCK registrar and chief executive officer Edna Tallam alongside other board members seeks to weed out quacks blamed for incompetence that has reportedly resulted in several preventable deaths in Kenyan hospitals.
“We are concerned as a council on the increasing half-baked nursing graduates who are incompetent and are handling the lives of millions of Kenyans on a daily basis,” she said.
She said some of the courses offered, like Nursing Aid were not accredited and students graduate with certificates or diplomas in such courses posed a lot of risk to patients.
“There is no course like nursing aid you are either a nurse or you are not. We must get rid of quacks giving the profession a bad name,” she said.
The NCK boss put on notice targeted colleges and warned that those that fail to comply with the set standards within stipulated timelines faced both closure and prosecution.
Board members Alfred Obengo and Kinuthia Wamwangi who accompanied her also raised concern over the mushrooming of nursing schools which were producing half-baked nurse.
“We are not going to allow unscrupulous business men only interested in making profit meddle with the lives of Kenyans by offering unaccredited courses or training illegally. They are setting very low standards for our healthcare system,” said Mr Obengo, adding that the purge would target both public and private institutions.
Mr Wamwangi said: “We shall mop out from the system some of the half-baked nurses in our hospitals who are mistreating patients because they were ill-trained.”
Some of the institutions, he said, did not even have curriculums and were just “picking health practitioners from hospitals to come and teach what they know.”
The Council bosses warned that the future of hundreds of students, some of who were due to graduate was at risk because the board will not index or license them to practice.
“It is painful to waste two years and a lot of money training to become a professional then you are told you cannot be allowed to practice because your trainer is not recognized. We feel the pain of both the students and the parents and that is why we will not relent in this war,” said Wamwangi.
He advised students to confirm with the council if their colleges are registered before registering with them.
Additionally, the council says it will invite administrators of the colleges for a summit in Nairobi to inform of the minimum requirements as an alternative channel to strengthening compliance.
So far the council has inspected institutions in Nairobi, Nakuru and Uasin Gishu and Kisumu counties. After the Uzima raid, Ms Tallam said they would retreat to Nairobi and escalate the crackdown to Kenya Medical Training Colleges before coming to the smaller colleges.