Strengthening and Institutionalizing the Leadership and Management Role of Frontline Nurses in Zambia

12 May, 2019

Dear HIFA and HIFA-Zambia colleagues,

'Through a 12-month blended learning program, nurses and nurse-midwives leading low-resource health facilities at the community level improved their capacity to engage community members, increased their ability to lead frontline teams, strengthened their skills and confidence in technology use, and optimized investments in the community health system to achieve high-quality services.'

Citation and abstract bleow. Full text here:

CITATION: Strengthening and Institutionalizing the Leadership and Management Role of Frontline Nurses to Advance Universal Health Coverage in Zambia

Allison Annette Foster, Marjorie Kabinga Makukula, Carolyn Moore, Nellisiwe Luyando Chizuni, Fastone Goma, Alan Myles, David Nelson.


In Zambia, nurses and nurse-midwives lead more than half of rural facilities and guide primary health care delivery. Based on a formative assessment, the Ministry of Health (MOH) determined that improved leadership capacity and management skills of facility heads would help maximize the potential of Zambia’s community-level investments. In support of these efforts, the Primary Health Care to Communities (PHC2C) initiative designed and tested a 12-month blended learning program for a certificate in leadership and management practice (CLMP) to build leadership and management competencies of rural facility heads, including increasing their ability to lead frontline teams and strengthening their skills and confidence in technology use. The CLMP was created with leadership from the MOH, technical guidance from the University of Zambia, and expertise from PHC2C partners IntraHealth International, Johnson & Johnson, and mPowering Frontline Health Workers. In total, 20 nurse facility heads and 5 district nurse supervisors in 20 rural facilities across 5 districts were selected to test the course content and delivery approach. A mixed-methods approach, including evaluation of facility heads’ presentations on community health improvement projects, focus group discussions with community members, and key informant interviews with nurses, clinical officers, and other stakeholders, was used to assess the results. Findings suggested that the facility heads had successfully strengthened their leadership and management competencies, increased their ability to lead frontline teams, and strengthened their skills and confidence in use of technology, including using a WhatsApp community of practice for support and consultation with other colleagues, with demonstrated improvements in the quality and accessibility of services. Based on assessment results and lessons from the test intervention, the Zambian government has committed to institutionalize CLMP as a national continuing professional development program, required for nurses posted to lead rural facilities. The planning, design, and implementation of this program offer an example to other countries and global actors of how nurses empowered with competence and confidence can play a significant role in coordinating the maze of community actors and navigating the complexities of community health systems to advance primary health care and universal health coverage.


Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: