New evidence of a growing children’s nursing workforce for Africa

10 May 2019 - 21:30

New research published in the international journal of Human Resources for Health presents the findings of an initial workforce survey. Conducted by CNPDI Research Programme Director Natasha North, with co-authors Minette Coetzee and Maylene Shung-King, this is the first time a systematic count of specialist children’s nurses has been attempted for this geographical region.


  • There are approximately 4 000 children’s nurses in South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi and Kenya. The majority (8/10) are in South Africa.
  • National governments are prioritising child health, and are committed to building the specialist nursing workforce.
  • Six new children’s nursing training programmes have been established since 2006.
  • The children’s nursing workforce is growing, with 260 additional children’s nurses trained across these five nations each year.
  • None of the five nations in the study currently have strong systems for monitoring the children’s nursing workforce.

The full text of the article can be accessed free of charge using this link:

“Children make up close to half the population in many African countries. This survey shows that children’s nurses are still very few in number  - often less than 1% of the nursing workforce – but the difference they can make to child survival is huge” says Natasha, who is a nurse herself. “The positive findings are that commitment to strengthening this specialist nursing cadre is strong, and this commitment is paying off. Three of the countries in this survey are on course to double their children’s nursing workforce in the next two years.”

The work of the Child Nursing Practice Development Unit at the University of Cape Town continues to drive growth in children’s nursing. With our partners and collaborators we are proud to be at the heart of a growing community of educators, clinicians and leaders committed to building children’s nursing for Africa, in Africa.  

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