Mentorship is a developmental relationship in which an individual with more experience in a particular field provides helpful guidance and support to someone with less experience. The Kenyan Ministry of Health (MoH) identified Emergency Obstetrics and Newborn Care (EmONC) as one of the high impact interventions to reduce maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality. EmONC mentorship is a strategy for health care professionals (HCPs) to advance their knowledge, skills, attitudes, and competencies. Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) partners with Kenyan MoH to support EmONC mentorship by strengthening the capacity of Health Care Providers (HCPs) to mentor their peers within the health facilities. Garissa County is one of the five counties supported by LSTM in Kenya. Garissa is among the 15 highest burden counties that together contribute to 98.7% of total maternal deaths in Kenya, so high impact interventions are needed to stop preventable deaths.
In 2016, LSTM funded by UKAid, trained Garissa HCPs in EmONC skills. In 2020, 111 mentors were trained. During the training, emphasis was put on the qualities required to be a good mentor, mentorship techniques and the relational and supportive aspects of mentorship (see figure below). Garissa had not conducted EmONC mentorship before and this was the first time HCPs had received EmONC mentorship training.
LSTM continued to provide technical support to the mentors, progressively allowing them to provide quality mentoring. To-date, EmONC mentorship sessions are held in Garissa monthly by Health Facility-based mentors under the supervision of the County Reproductive Health Coordinator, in addition to one-to-one mentorship provided in the clinical environment by experienced mentor-practitioners. Amidst challenges of Covid-19 interruptions, HCP industrial action, high staff turnover of EmONC mentors, Garissa has fully embraced EmONC mentorship, a strategy that is now endorsed by Ministry of Health following the launch of national EmONC mentorship package.
“Mentorship was my first opportunity to ever teach others”….. “in my health facility, we usually depended on doctors to conduct CMEs. As a newly trained mentor, I was expected to mentor my peers. I gathered the courage, using knowledge and skills I had acquired at the mentorship training, and started my journey as a mentor”. Nurse midwife and trained mentor Garissa County Kenya
During a two-day Knowledge Management and Learning event in June 2022, LSTM, in collaboration with Garissa County recognised best performing mentors in male and female categories using specified criteria. The award ceremony was officiated by the County Executive Committee Member for Health (CEC-Health) and attended by representatives from National MoH (Division of reproductive, maternal, and newborn health – DRMNH), county health department, mentors, MNH partners, among others. The winners received certificates of recognition (see photo at the top) and their facility, Ijara Subcounty hospital, a plaque of recognition.
Matthew Dennis Ongoro, a nurse-midwife and best male mentor was described by his mentees as an expert in maternal and newborn care; “ …. he usually shares with us knowledge and feedback he has learned from workshops. He loves to teach and uses every opportunity to impart knowledge. There was a day I requested him to support me on management of PPH; it was a Sunday, we had very few patients on the ward; and he instantly used the time to mentor me on various management aspects of PPH. He has set up a WhatsApp group for nurses in my hospital where he regularly updates us on EmONC mentorship, scheduled sessions, and topics”… a quote from an interview with his mentees.
Lucy Gakui Mwangi, a midwife and best female mentor was described by her county supervisor as a manager, who is very approachable by her colleagues; sacrificial and always ready to give a service to mothers and babies. An interview with one of her mentees revealed that … ‘I have learned so much from her both technically and the good attitude towards work. I will never forget a time I was alone on duty because my colleague was sick. I was getting overwhelmed and needed help. My mentor was called from her house to come and assist; despite that fact that she had been on night shift in maternity the previous night, she was woken up from her sleep at 11am and she came; she covered this day duty for my sick colleague and worked diligently’… a quote from an interview with his mentees.
In line with the overall purpose of the LSTM funded program to promote and support the institutionalisation and effective stewardship of strategies and interventions to reduce maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality, we celebrate the EmONC mentorship achievements in Garissa and are confident that the county will implement the new national EmONC mentorship package.