Role analysis of the nurse/midwives in the health services in Sub-Saharan Africa


Correspondence to J. Chipps:




To describe the tasks and the roles of nurses and midwives in Sub-Saharan African health services.


The current roles of nurses and midwives in the African region of the World Health Organization have not been empirically established, with only studies from two countries found (South Africa and Mozambique). This makes it difficult to establish whether current nursing/midwifery education programmes and regulations adequately address the needs in the health services.


A descriptive quantitative study.


A survey questionnaire was administered to ambulatory and hospital services. Data were collected between June–December 2010, with completed responses from 734 nurses from nine African countries (five Anglophone and four Francophone).


The highest reported role functioning in both settings was for ‘General Care and Treatment’. The lowest role functioning reported in both settings was in the role ‘Maternal and Child Health’ and in ‘The Provision of Mental Health Care’. The reported role performance in Anglophone countries was significantly greater than in Francophone countries.


The development of competency in nursing/midwifery roles other than medical surgical roles (general assessment and care) should receive more attention in curricula. Special attention needs to be given to Francophone countries, where the professions of nursing and midwifery are poorly developed.