Nursing graduate transforming global maternity and child healthcare
Published on 5 October 2020
Jonas Nguh has had an acclaimed career in nursing, winning national and global recognition for his work in developing maternity care and child health programmes across the world. He has shared with us his story.
Pursuing a career in nursing was a natural choice for Jonas. From an early age, he was exposed to the plight caused by discrimination in healthcare. “I have first-hand experiences of family members who suffered negative health outcomes due to the lack of healthcare access and marginalization. Coming from an environment where women were disenfranchised with no access to reproductive healthcare rights, I wanted to make a contribution that would help close identified gaps. So from an early age, I knew I would do something to make a difference”.
After studying his Bachelor of Nursing, Jonas decided to further his education in Dundee citing the University’s international reputation, excellent student experience and diversity of the student population as the reasons behind this choice. “Dundee prepares you to transform lives locally and globally and it is thanks to the Dundee that I have been able to develop the skills, knowledge and competencies that has enabled me to be an agent of positive social change”.
Being an agent of positive social change is exactly what Jonas went on to do. He has worked in over 20 different countries, the scope of his practice covering reproductive health, family planning, nutrition, malaria, sanitation, HIV maternal and paediatric care.
Jonas certainly never lost his desire to help bridge the gap in healthcare access for women. He developed an entrepreneurial model for maternal homes which has so far been replicated across five Sub-Saharan countries with evidence indicating that over 2.5 million women have accessed services from these homes. It is for this achievement that he gained international recognition as a British Council Study UK Alumni Award winner in 2018.
Winning this award bolstered his work further. “It gave me a larger audience for networking that I have used both to develop my skills but also to position myself for greater advocacy for female reproductive healthcare rights in Sub-Saharan Africa and low resource counties”.
In order to be at the forefront of healthcare advocacy and policy making, Jonas moved to Washington DC, seeing it as an opportunity to be involved in governmental, private sector and non-for-profit organisations. He has since taken up a position of Dean of Health Professions, supervising postgraduate and doctoral students in five different health programmes, believing that preparing the next generation of health professionals has never been more important in addressing emerging healthcare needs.
“Globalization has significant implications for health. Not only are we seeing the re-emergence of diseases but within a matter of hours you can travel across the globe. This means that healthcare professionals must be aware of and prepared to address issues that were once thought of to be far away. Science and technology provide tools that we can leverage to address health outcomes but without the education and preparation of professionals, we miss such opportunities. We have seen how Covid-19 has exposed the major gaps and deficiencies in our healthcare system and healthcare preparedness. It has highlighted the important but sadly often ignored role of nurses and other frontline healthcare workers in keeping our public safe. But it has also provided an ideal time to turn a crisis into an opportunity whereby nurses become more involved in decision making circles both at the bedside and in the boardroom. We can begin conversations that better prepare and position us for greater engagement than ever before”.
The awards keep coming in for Jonas. This year he was just one of six in the US to win the prestigious Florence Nightingale Award for exemplary nursing achievement in practice and education presented by the American Nurses Association. “It holds special meaning to me as I was the first and only male to be honoured with this award, considering that I’m in a female-dominated profession and from an ethnic minority group”.
With all these achievements, Jonas has still not forgotten the importance of nursing which he recognised as a child. Whether it is providing frontline care or advocating for better policy, the further Jonas has progressed in nursing, the more he has understood and appreciated the significant role that it has to influence healthcare outcomes.
Jonas Nguh, BSc Nursing
Press Office, University of Dundeepress@dundee.ac.uk