Nursing Education Partnership Initiative Tackles the Global Nursing Shortage

Kate TulenkoAround the world nurses are often the front line of the formal medical system, providing care to underserved areas and filling in where and when doctors are in short supply. Yet it has been estimated that sub-Saharan Africa needs 600,000 additional nurses just to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

The Nursing Education Partnership Initiative (NEPI)—the US Government’s unified program to address the underproduction of nursing professionals in developing countries—convened its partners for the first time in a meeting in June in Washington, DC. NEPI’s goal is to assist in the nursing component of the US Government’s commitment to training 140,000 additional health workers in developing countries by 2015.

NEPI is led by PEPFAR with government partners USAID and the Department of Health and Human Services. Other partners include CapacityPlus led by IntraHealth International, Columbia University, the World Health Organization, and the Clinton Health Access Initiative.

CapacityPlus’s Role in NEPI

Over the next two to three years:

  • We will analyze the costs of producing more nurses (and physicians) so that donors and countries can estimate scaling up costs and, using our “best buys” approach, make the most cost-effective investments in training more health workers.

This costing will consist of the per graduate cost of training additional nurses and physicians as well as estimated costs of common scaling up projects, such as the average cost of building classrooms or setting up eLearning facilities.

  • We will survey nursing schools in sub-Saharan Africa in order to better understand their current capacities and challenges, as well as to start a global web-based database of nursing schools. This survey will help the global health workforce community better understand how nursing schools are being managed, governed, and financed (public/private), as well as their educational strategies.

For example, how aligned are curricula with local needs, what percentage of schools recruit students from the community, and what percentage of schools take advantage of community-based training? We also anticipate facilitating the establishment of an African Nursing School Association to help schools learn from each other and share innovations.


Nursing education contact

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NEPI countries and schools

Thanks for your question. I'm replying on behalf of the blog post's author, Kate Tulenko. She reports that the first round of NEPI countries has been chosen: Lesotho, Zambia, and Malawi. Over the next few months individual schools in these countries will be chosen for investment in both quality improvement and scaling up. In the next year another round of countries and schools will be selected. The schools awarded Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) grants can be found here: We will keep our blog readers posted on these developments. Thanks again. --Sarah Dwyer, CapacityPlus