ICN continues 125-year long drive to develop nursing across the globe with launch of next stage of its organizational programme for nurse leaders in Africa

8 April 2024
Joint collage ODENNA

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has launched the 3rd phase of its Organizational Development of National Nursing Associations program (ODENNA), continuing its 125-year long history of developing nurses’ organizations and the nurses that belong to them.

Since its inception in 1899, ICN has brought nurses’ organizations together to further develop the nursing profession, improve nursing care and provide the best available health care to patients around the world, and ODENNA is the vehicle for further development.

ICN’s ODENNA program continued these efforts last month with two, week-long meetings in Senegal and Rwanda that focused on strengthening the participating National Nurses Associations (NNAs). As part of the ODENNA program, 85 nurse leaders from 23 African nations took part in ICN’s Leadership for Change (LFC) workshops, increasing their leadership skills and their ability to contribute and influence policy making in their home countries. Alongside through the Nursing Association Mentorship Initiative (NAMI), these NNAs are now entering a period of mentorship, preparing for the practical implementation of their impactful projects.

ICN Chief Executive Officer Howard Catton, who attended the workshop in Kigali, Rwanda, said: “Nurses are the lifeblood of healthy communities and societies, and our NNAs form the foundation that enables the profession to flourish and develop today and, in the years, to come. Our ODENNA program is unique because it not only strengthens and increases the influence of nursing associations in Africa, it builds on individual nurses’ leadership skills and expertise, resulting in a better future for the nursing profession and, most importantly, the people they serve. We are particularly excited about the vast potential of new mentoring program which will pair NNAs from all parts of the world to support NNAs in Africa in their development. This is a blueprint which can potentially be used on other continents in the future.”

ODENNA Program Lead Jody White, who was at the LFC event in Senegal and Rwanda said: “Nurse leaders, driven by innovation and empathy, are shaping the future of healthcare. These workshops support this drive by providing hands-on leadership training. Participants tackle current challenges facing their nurses and nursing associations, designing actionable plans to advance their associations and the broader healthcare landscape. With a focus on holistic approaches, the workshop empowers nurses to implement policies that promote progress and fairness in health outcomes and the welfare of nurses.”

It is through its National Nursing Association (NNA) members that ICN helps nurses to address all aspects of health and to influence positive change in health care systems.

Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo, President of the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association (GRNMA) said the ODENNA program is vitally important because it creates a better understanding of the challenges faced by nurses in the African region.

Mrs Ofori-Ampofo said: “The challenges of GRNMA are not unique and we are even in a better position than some NNAs in terms of our structures and systems of operation. How we manage our challenges and uncertainties comes down to leadership and the ability of our leaders to spur colleagues on, even in difficult times. The ODENNA program is great for networking, attaining hands-on leadership skills, and for gaining knowledge in navigating the everyday challenges that NNAs and trade unions face.”

Betrework Birhanu from the Ethiopian Nurses Association said: "ODENNA is important because it creates a platform for National Nurses Associations to come together and share views and experiences. I have gained a lot as a participant of the meeting, including leadership skills and project proposal development. The project we are planning will have a profound impact in the nursing profession as its vision is to bring quality to current practice."

Togo NNA President, Edith Dissoba said: “ODENNA is important as rare opportunities that gives knowledge and strengthens the skills to better organize and manage our association. We learned a lot about leadership, mentorship, emotional intelligence that will enable us to improve the quality of care in our country.”

Ismaila Mbaye, Senegal NNA President said: “ODENNA is a very important program for us. It has enabled us to review our course of action so that we can better influence policies in terms of leadership, capacity building for our association and collaboration or partnership with stakeholders. We must also add the spirit of exchange between countries and colleagues to better develop ourselves: the support we have given to the development of a strategic plan for our association is a remarkable example of this. Our association, which is over 50 years old, did not have a strategic document. So, thanks to the ODENNA program, the availability of a strategic plan constitutes an element of advocacy and visibility of the association's interventions, contributing to the strengthening of the health system and the promotion of the nursing profession in our country”.

Desderius Haufiku, Namibia NNA President said: “ODENNA developed a good platform for NNAs to come together, network and learn from each other. This helped our association to link to our sister associations and strengthen our association. The most important thing we learned was to develop a strategic plan for our NNA. We learned leadership skills and how to develop budgets and track activities and the implementation of the project. Our association has benefitted immensely from the ODENNA program, and it will help our association to grow and develop in terms of getting more members and increase revenue.”

President of the Liberian Nurses Association Benjamin Suamey said: “Here in Rwanda, we have been taught several topics, including the best way to negotiate and to also deal with politicians. Currently laws, policies and implementation, including the salaries of our members, are always the duties of politicians or elected officials of government. Knowing how to work with them, as taught during this training, will also help our NNA to deal with politicians. In short, ODENNA has been just what we needed to get us empowered.”

Dr Baboucarr Cham from the National Association of Gambia Nurses & Midwives said: “We the Gambian team learned a lot from the first and second phases, including about emotional intelligence, social capital and many other concepts which help us manage our association better. In the first two phases we developed a capacity building project for our nurse attendants, and now we have the support of our government and have recruited 100 nurse attendants. We thank ICN, Johnson and Johnson and BD Foundation for the sponsorship to attend this important training.”

Alexander Baluhya, President of the Tanzania National Nurses' Association said: “ODENNA has been important to our NNA in Tanzania because it has to do with the transformational leadership of our association to be a valuable organization for our nurses and to be their only right voice. ODENNA has enlightened us on how to have positive change internally and externally. Once the ideas of ODENNA are implemented, there will be a sustainable, strong association that will bring positive improvements to nursing services through strong professional advocacy interventions.”

• ICN is grateful to the BD Foundation and the Johnson & Johnson Foundation for their continued and generous funding of the ODENNA program.

Click here for more information about the ODENNA program.