Ugandan Nursing Students win AAN Award for Innovation and Sustainability in Health Worker Safety 

The Students’ Association of Kampala International University (KIU) School of Nursing took on the challenge of designing & producing reusable face masks for health workers in response to the shortage of PPE in the context of COVID-19.  

Earlier this month, the Covid-19 Africa Action Network for Nurses and Nurses Midwives (AAN) announced the KIU School of Nursing Students Association as the recipient of its inaugural Award for Innovation and Sustainability in Health Worker Safety, for its trailblazing work designing & producing safe, reusable medical masks for healthcare workers (HCWs).

Working under the leadership of Dean Annet Kabanyaro, the Nursing Student’s Association launched an innovative, sustainable local production of evidence-based, reusable medical masks to help address the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for Ugandan health care workers. They also benefited from close consultation with expert epidemiologist Dr Janine Jagger of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, and the KIU Textiles Department.  Within four weeks of receiving a modest grant from AAN, the students produced more than 130, 000 reusable medical masks and delivered them to local health care facilities and HCWs. 

“Disposable PPE simply cannot be sustained, ” stated Dr Janine Jagger. “The ‘global stockpile’ consisted of what was in hospital storerooms when COVID-19 hit. Poof – It was used up in days. There is no other way to stockpile and ensure safety than with reusables.”

The Students’ Association continues to produce and supply reusable PPE, responding to the growing awareness that single-use, disposable PPEs beget disappearing stockpiles and create an unacceptable rise in health care waste, greatly exacerbated during this COVID-19 pandemic.  

The COVID-19 Africa Action Network for Nurses & Nurse-Midwives (AAN) is a global, all-volunteer group of health care professionals, working to support nurses & nurse-midwives fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in Eswatini, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. 

For further information: AAN Co-Chair, Linda Carrier-Walker