Clinical Study

Current status and priorities of paediatric oncology nursing in Africa: a synthesis of perspectives from SIOP Africa nurses

10 Aug 2023
Glenn M Afungchwi, Elianeth Kiteni, Mariam Ndagire, Biemba Maliti, Rachael Kunkel, Julia M Challinor, Rachel Hollis

Introduction: As African countries adopt the global goal of improving childhood cancer survival to 60% by 2030, intentional actions are required to improve nursing. This report aims to describe the current status of paediatric oncology nursing in Africa.

Methods: We report on nursing-related aspects of a survey to map paediatric oncology services in Africa (2018–2019), document perceived nursing strengths and weaknesses (2017) and share nurses’ research priorities (2019). Additionally, we report on a survey to identify topics for a foundation course (2019) and the expressed perspective of African nurses about the status of paediatric oncology nursing across the continent (2022).

Results: Only 21% of respondents in the African mapping survey reported having nurses who care for children with cancer at least 75% of the time. Many centres do not have allied health workers like dieticians and play therapists, thus contributing to the nursing burden of care. The main strength of African paediatric oncology nurses was the humanisation of care, while the major weakness was the lack of training follow-up. The top research priorities focused on professional practice and psychosocial support. The Delphi survey identified 57 topic areas grouped into a 12-module curriculum for nurses new to paediatric oncology. The nurses affirmed their dedication to providing compassionate care, however, noted their vulnerability to harm and called for better specialisation, recognition and remuneration.

Conclusion: This paper amplifies the voice of African paediatric oncology nurses. It illuminates the room for improvement and provides a reference point for future comparison.

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