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Home : Media


Rachael McLaughlin
Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International

Nursing Leadership Academy participants seek to improve maternal-child health care
Pilot program in South Africa will prepare nurses to lead improvements and foster development

Indianapolis — Implementation of a nurse leadership program in Africa is aiming to improve upon what a 2009 World Health Statistics Report identified as little progress in the reduction of maternal mortality and newborn deaths over the last decade in Africa.

The Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) recognizes that nurses can positively influence maternal-child health care outcomes and, with support from Johnson & Johnson, offers the Maternal-Child Health Nurse Leadership Academy (MCH NLA). Since its inception in 2004, the academy has prepared 78 nurses to lead health care teams toward improving maternal-child health in communities across Canada, Europe and the United States.

Based on the positive impact of previous academies, the model is being adapted for nurses in South Africa starting September 2011. North-West University in Potchefstroom will serve as the site of academy workshops in partnership with its sister university in Mafikeng and three major area hospitals.

“We are very excited to launch the Leadership Academy in South Africa. Together with STTI and Johnson & Johnson, we believe that nurses and midwives taking the lead in maternal-child health will be instrumental in reducing maternal, neonatal and child mortality and morbidity,” said Christa van der Walt, PhD, MEd, associate professor and lead, Maternal-Child Health Nurse Leadership Academy – South Africa Pilot.

Through leadership lessons, self-assessment, interdisciplinary team development and project management, the 18-month mentored leadership development program challenges nurses to implement change within their organizations.

Partnered with a nurse mentor, mentees are led through curriculum designed to develop leadership in action through projects that improve the overall health of mothers, babies and children. Goals include:

  • Influencing maternal-child health care practices within varied settings serving hundreds to tens of thousands of mothers and children
  • Improving maternal-child health mortality rates through nursing leadership
  • Growing and empowering nurses for leadership in prenatal care for rural clinics
  • Benefiting facilities through the retention of experienced nurses and midwives

"The Nurse Leadership Academy is aligned with Johnson & Johnson's commitment to the Millennium Development Goals for maternal and child health. One thousand women and girls die every day in pregnancy or childbirth from complications like infection and bleeding. Nurses are the front-line leaders to save mothers and babies – not only as clinicians, but as leaders who can improve the health care system,” said Joanne Fillweber, manager of corporate contributions for Johnson & Johnson.

STTI has been approved as an associated non-governmental organization (NGO) by the Department of Public Information of the United Nations. This U.N. association demonstrates STTI’s commitment to the Charter of the U.N. and the Millennium Development Goals, which seek to achieve international cooperation toward solving humanitarian and health issues. MCH NLA directly supports goals No. 4 and No. 5: Reduce child mortality and improve maternal health.

“We are grateful to Johnson & Johnson's tangible recognition of the invaluable contributions nurses make to improve the health of mothers and children,” said STTI President Karen H. Morin, DSN, RN, ANEF, FAAN. “Our partnership with Johnson & Johnson is longstanding and one that we value. We are excited about building on successes to positively influence health outcomes in this part of the world!"

Following are the maternal-child health nurses who will begin the program in September.

2011-12 Program Participants



Miemie van Jaarsveld
Klerksdorp Hospital, Maternity section
 Francina Boer

Petro Swanepoel  
Potchefstroom Sub-district (primary health care)

 Jeanette Clase

Janine Grobbelaar
Klerksdorp Hospital, Labour ward

 Francina Boer

Yvone Nkose       
Mbatho College of Nursing, Mbatho (Mafikeng)

 Grieta Dakada
Madile Mmoloke       
Potchefstroom Hospital (Prem Unit and NICU)
 Joyce Mfuni
Riane van Jaarsveld       
Wilmed Private Hospital
 Erika Kotze

# # #

The Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is advancing world health and celebrating nursing excellence in scholarship, leadership, and service. Founded in 1922, STTI has more than 135,000 active members in more than 85 countries. Members include practicing nurses, instructors, researchers, policymakers, entrepreneurs and others. STTI’s roughly 500 chapters are located at approximately 695 institutions of higher education throughout Armenia, Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, England, Ghana, Hong Kong, Japan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malawi, Mexico, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Swaziland, Sweden, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, the United States, and Wales. More information about STTI can be found online at

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