The Child Nurse Practice Development Initiative


The Child Nurse Practice Development Initiative is an established and strategically significant nurse-led programme which is now the main training hub for children’s nursing on the African continent. Since the Initiative began in 2008, a total of 283 nurses have graduated from our courses, from South Africa and a further 8 countries across the wider Southern Africa region. 

Our activities are directed towards 3 goals:

  • Building children’s nursing for Africa, in Africa
  • Building the knowledge base for children’s nursing in Africa
  • Building strong and sustainable team and system capacity

Africa faces a shortfall of more than 350,000 nurses. It isn’t realistic to think we can fully close that gap. We must find ways to use our scarce nursing resources intelligently, and differently. Our training activities are underpinned by improvement science research. We are identifying new models of nursing care that are better suited to low resource, high need healthcare settings. In particular we are focusing on ways that nurses can unlock the innate capacity of mothers to care for their children when they are sick. Central to this is the creation of the Care Through Family Collaborative, a community of practitioners, researchers and educators working together to develop, test and implement new solutions to meet the needs of sick children in Africa. 



Collaboration with the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital

The Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital (RCWMCH) has a rich tradition in providing excellent tertiary and quaternary health care to children from across the Western Cape, South Africa and the African continent. This 290 inpatient facility has a busy outpatient service, a sophisticated trauma unit, an operating theatre suite and a large critical care unit with high dependency care offered throughout the facility. Each year the hospital sees and treats more than 250,000 children. The hospital serves as both the paediatric national centre for liver disease and liver transplant and the paediatric provincial centre for burns and cardiac surgery.

The RCWMCH and the UCT Department of Paediatrics and Child Health have a long history together in training specialist paediatric nurses. Advanced paediatric and neonatal nurse training were pioneered at the hospital more than 60 years ago. In 1984, the then Department of Nursing also pioneered the introduction of child health nursing as a core semester of its undergraduate programme and has been offering postgraduate paediatric and paediatric intensive care nurse training for almost 15 years.