Nursing and midwifery education, regulation and workforce in Kenya: A scoping review

Document Type



School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa


Aim: To explore contextual literature on nursing and midwifery education, regulation and workforce in Kenya to develop an understanding of the current state and inform opportunities to strengthen the nursing and midwifery professions.

Introduction: Kenya has yet to achieve the minimum nursing and midwifery workforce threshold, despite the exponential increase in population and epidemiologic disease transitions.

Background: There are glaring health gaps and inequities in sub-Saharan African countries. Health systems are evolving into complex and costly utilities, increasing the demand for nurses and midwives. It is, therefore, necessary to re-examine systems that educate, deploy and retain the nursing workforce, especially given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and increase in non-communicable diseases.

Methods: This scoping review was guided and reported following the PRISMA-ScR guidelines. Four electronic databases (PubMed, Scopus, CINAHL and Web of Science) were probed for relevant studies conducted in Kenya between 1963 and 2020. The search was supplemented using Google Scholar. Findings from selected studies were extracted and analysed thematically.

Results: Of the 238 retrieved studies, 37 were included in this review: 10 articles on nursing and midwifery education, 11 on regulation and 16 on the workforce.

Discussion: There have been changes in regulation and an increase in nursing and midwifery enrolment and graduates. However, maldistribution and shortage of nurses and midwives persist.

Conclusions: Kenya's nursing and midwifery professions have undergone significant changes to meet the demand for a skilled workforce. However, the shortage of qualified and specialised nurses and midwives persists. Moreover, this shortage is exacerbated by underinvestment, outmigration and a need for more reforms to expand the nursing and midwifery workforce.

Publication (Name of Journal)

International Nursing Review