The fifth Steering Committee (SC) meeting in the second phase of the Strengthening Nursing in BiH project was held on November 30, 2020. For the first time, the meeting was held using an internet platform as one of the preventive measures against COVID-19 spread. The results achieved so far were presented to the Steering Committee, with a particular highlight on the project interventions during the pandemic and its impact on project implementation.
In an effort to respond to the immediate needs of the healthcare system, the project provided a certain amount of personal protective equipment for nurses, as well as video and printed guidelines for the use of the equipment. On the International Day of Nurses (May 12), the project conducted a proactive and strong campaign on the importance of the nursing profession. Jointly with nurses associations, the project has started and still shares, credible and relevant information on how to fight the virus.
Support to the creation of mechanisms for nursing profession regulation through the development of entity nurses registers continues. During the pandemic, a Handbook on Standard Operating Procedures for Nurses at the Secondary and Tertiary Healthcare Levels in the Republika Srpska was completed and presented. Standard operating procedures development will continue in both entities - in the RS for the primary and in the FBIH for the secondary and tertiary healthcare levels. Nursing documentation has been standardized and is expected to become official soon. Further support and cooperation with nurses associations continues.
The training in community nursing sites Derventa, Prnjavor, Zenica and Vitez was resumed in October, following obtainment of all the necessary approvals by the relevant authorities and adhering to all the recommended adjustments and epidemiological safety measures. The plan is to continue the training in the new locations already nominated by the ministries of health, followed by project arrangements with the management of primary healthcare centers, development of local implementation plans, etc.
The awaited adoption of actions plans for the reform of secondary nurse education will be followed by the drafting of the transition plans. The last call for scholarships for master's and doctoral studies in nursing care was concluded in September 2020. During 2017 – 2020, the project supported a total of 39 students at public faculties in BIH and provided funding for 99 study semesters. Project support was an incentive for local institutions to take over part of the tuition costs. The project hopes and expects that they will recognize the importance of the academic development of the nursing profession and provide funds to continue with the scholarship awards.
Although none of the activities were canceled, some were delayed until the situation improved. As there is only one project year left, it will be necessary to work rapidly with partners on the remaining activities in order to achieve the goals set. Lessons learned during the crisis and the possible consequences that the healthcare system will have to overcome have already been taken into account during the planning of the next project interventions.