BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH NURSES’ SCHOOL KORLE – BU
In the early 20’s, sanitations in Accra was very poor and diseases like malaria, scabies, yaws, small pox, yellow fever, diarrhoea disease, pneumonia, measles, whooping cough, tuberculosis and mal-nutrition’s in children were common. Also, people had many believes in the causes of diseases.
In the year 1920, female sanitary inspectors were appointed to visit homes with male sanitary inspectors. In 1922 Dr. Mc Gill was appointed the first School Health Doctor. During this period, there were only 3 Child Welfare Clinics in the country (James Town and OSU in Accra, Kumasi in the Ashanti Region and Kpando in the Volta Region).
In 1926, Cadbury and Fry Company recruited voluntary workers who were trained as Health Visitors. These persons attended lectures with Health Inspectors at the City Council Offices and visited homes together.
The founding tutors included doctors like Selwyn Clerke, Oliphant and Lennox.
Mrs. Kate Odonkor, Mrs Louisa Smith, Mrs. Isabella Hammond, Miss Regina Hesse and Miss Ruby Papafio were some of the Cadbury and Fry students. They trained for 1 year.
First expatriate Principal
In 1950, Miss Dorothy Pittock a British Health Visitor was brought to the country, posted to Korle Bu Children’s Block and worked for one year. She later went to Britain in 1951 to qualify as a Public Health Nurse Tutor. In 1952 she returned to the country to begin the training of Professional Health Visitors.
Changes in the programme
The programme of the sick children’s nurses’ was phased out. In its place, State Registered Nurses (S.R.N.) and Qualified Registered Nurses (Q.R.N.) were recruited and trained together. The period of training was 1 year, and the programme was based on British Syllabus approved by the then Nurses Board for the Gold Coast. This was the beginning of the training of the Public Health Nurses School in Ghana. Lectures given were on Hygiene, Communicable Diseases, Childhood diseases, Nutrition, School Health and Child Psychology. The first students were Mrs. Matilda Adzam, Miss Christiana Opoku, Miss Ella Boachi and Mrs. Schall.
In 1958, the school was moved to the Nurses Training College, Korle Bu. There were no permanent rooms and any available places were used as classrooms. (Nurses lounge, library stoop).
First Ghanaian Principal
In 1960, the first African tutor (Mrs. Joana Samarasinghe) took over as Principal of the school. The then Principal Medical Officer for Accra, Eastern and Volta Regions (Dr. C.E.P. Samarasinghe) arranged with the Principal of the Nurses Training College Korle Bu (Miss Randell) for a class room and an office for the school. Part of the then science block (now Ophthalmic Nurses’ School) which was used as the recruitment center was loaned to the school.
The course was upgraded in 1966 and the Q.R.N.s was stopped from training. Some of the health visitors who were QRN after qualifying as SRNs returned to the school to be upgraded.
The N.T.C. accommodated the school for fourteen (14) years that is up to 1974 when it was moved to the present premises to share facilities with the School of Hygiene and Health promotion Unit. (The facility was built purposely to house the three institutions).
Presently, the school runs a four (4) semester system programme. Previous courses studied were:
- Public Health Administration
- Maternal and Child Health
- Family Planning
- Cold Chain and Immunization
- School Health Services
- Health Education
- Principles and Practices of Public Health Nursing
- Research and Family Care Study
- Public Health Nutrition
- Community Mental Health
- Occupational Health
- Primary Eye and Oral Care
- Personal and Environmental Health
- Communicable Diseases.
The programme was further reviewed to admit diploma holders such as the RGNs, RM, RMN and SRNs with Midwifery background.
The Public Health Nurses’ School has since 1952 been in the forefront in providing and or assisting nurses and midwives to access knowledge leading to the practice of preventive health nursing. The programme is essentially community-oriented and problem-solving based. As a dynamic inter-personal process, which seeks to promote, maintain, and restore health, Public Health Nursing provides skills in assessment; planning, implementation and evaluation of health care to enable its products provide quality public health nursing services to families and communities.
A Public Health Nurse is a registered nurse with adequate knowledge and skills in obstetrics and infant care. This makes her a polyvalent nurse and a pace setter in preventive health services.
Her roles are innumerable; principally she is a health visitor, as well as a health teacher, social worker, community advocate and advisor, a counsellor and a facilitator for core public health services. She also functions by collecting systematic data on health status of populations, making information available on the health of communities for policy development and the provision of essential personal health services for aggregates in the population.
On completion of this two year course, the Public Health Nurse, mainly functions as a middle level manager at the district level.