WACN: Our Profile


The first African Commonwealth Nurses Seminar held in Ghana at the University of Ghana in January, 1974, served as a very useful forum for participants who were top nurses representing National Nurses Associations from The Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. There were observers from Liberia, East, Central and Southern Africa. Issues related to Nursing were discussed with particular reference to the West Africa sub-region.

Commonwealth Nurses Federation sponsored the seminar while Ghana hosted it. "Educating Nurses for Community Health Services" was the Theme for the seminar. Participants stressed very much on the need for more contact and collaboration among nurses in the Sub-Region, the formation of the West African Branch of the Federation and the need to marshall resources for the improvement and advancement of Nursing in its totality. There were resource persons from the sponsors, Le. Britain, Canada and W.H.O.


In May 1977, there was a meeting for Nurse Administrators from the five member countries of the College, viz The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. The objective was to discuss Nursing Education. Visits to Nursing institutions in the member countries followed later, and a report was submitted to the Conference of Directors of Medical Services (CDMS) and the Interim Executive Board of the West African Health Community (WAHC).

On the basis of the recommendations made by The Conference of The Directors of Medical Services (CDMS) and the Interim Executive Board, The Assembly of Health Ministers (AHIM) in October, 1978 decided that:

  1. A Provisional Council should be set up for a period of two years to work towards the establishment of a West African College of Nursing.
  2. A Nurse should be appointed in the Office of the Executive Director and designated Coordinator for Nursing Affairs.


In April, 1979, The Provisional Council for the College was inaugurated in Lagos, Nigeria. Three committees were set up:

  1. The Steering Committee which was also the Finance and General Purposes Committee - comprising The Chief Nursing Officers of the member countries with the Executive Director in attendance.
  2. The Constitution Drafting Committee comprising The Registrars of the National Nurses and Midwives Board and Representatives of National Nurses Association from each member country:
  3. The joint Curriculum Review Committee - comprising the Advisors on Higher Nursing education nominated by the Ministry of Health of each member country and other Nurses Educators.

These three committees had series of meetings between April, 1979 and August, 1980.

The Draft Constitution was finally approved and signed by the AHIM in October, 1980 in Accra, Ghana.

The Joint Curriculum Review Committee identified five areas in Nursing that needed to be developed in the member countries. They include....

  1. Medical/Surgical Nursing
  2. Maternal and Child Health Nursing
  3. Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing
  4. Community Health Nursing
  5. Nursing Administration/Management and Education.

The Steering Committee - which was also Finance and General Purposes Committee prepared the programme budget for 1980 as well as the biennial bUdgetforthe 1981-1982.

The College received moral and financial support from the WAHC, WHO, Canadian Nurses' Association, Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation (CFTC) and individuals. On 1st April, 1980, the first Coordinator for Nursing Affairs. Mrs. Joana Samarasinghe, SRN, SCM. Public Health Nurse Tutor, Masters Degree in Education and Health Planning assumed office. After the signing of the Constitution, numerous activities were carried out and criteria for the election of Foundation Fellows were spelt out. Consequently, Foundation Fellows were elected from among the applications received. On Tuesday, the 14th of April, 1981, The West African College of Nursing was officially inaugurated in Banjul in the Gambia, by H.E Hon, Mrs. Assan Musa Kamara, GCR, M.P., Vice president of the Gambia.


The membership of the College comprises Foundation Fellows, Honorary Fellows and Fellows as indicated in the Constitution.


Since its inauguration in 1981, the member countries have been hosting the AGM in rotation. The first AGM after the inauguration was hosted by Liberia. The theme was "Add Life to Years - A Challenge for Nurses".

However in view of the adverse economic trends in the Sub-Region, Which continues to place undue financial burden on Fellows and sponsors it became obvious at the AGM held in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in 1989, that meeting should be held biennially.
Member States were therefore, encouraged to hold their local AGM in alternate years to allow for full participation of all Fellows and also to promote the activities of the College within each country.

The First Biennial General Meeting and 10th Anniversary Celebration of the College was hosted by The Gambia Chapter in Banjul, The Gambia, in March, 1991. The Theme was "A Decade of WACN. Past, Present and Future".
During that meeting, First Ladies of member states were honoured. They were Mrs. Maryam Baangida – Nigeria, Mrs. Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings – Ghana, Mrs. Lady ajaratou Chilel Jawara – The Gambia and Mrs. Hanah Monoh – Sierra Leone.

The Last Biennial General Meeting was held in Freetown Sierra Lone from 9th – 16th March, 2007. The theme was “Quality Nursing Care Through The Use of Information Technology: prospects and Challenges’.

Strategies For The Reduction Of Infant And Maternal Morbidity And Mortality In The Sub-Region


I solemnly declare that I will obey all the Laws of The West African College of Nursing and uphold and defend its Constitution.

I will work diligently and contribute to the advancement of Nursing knowledge, the achievement of the ideals, goals and objectives of the West African College of Nursing and the maintenance of the highest possible standard of Nursing Education and Practice in the interest of our people.


Unity, Knowledge and Service


The following ideas are reflected in the College Crest:

  1. Continuity of life - represented by a Circle.
  2. Inter-relatedness of life and the total environment, represented by a woven cord.
  3. Nightingale Lamp, illuminating a book symbolizing search for knowledge.
  4. Colours, representing The Constituent Faculties
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