West African Health Community (WAHC) was established in May, 1972 as Commonwealth Sacretariat by the government of the Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone in cooperation with the commonwealth Sacretariat , London.

In 1974, the Republic of Liberia joined the community, and on the 25th October 1979, a treaty to change the name of the organization was signed thereby establishing the West African Health Community. Benin Republic became the first Francophone country to join the College in 2003.

WAHC was established to undertake activities that would contribute to the attainment of the highest possible standards and protection of health for the peoples of the sub-region.

In November 2000, in Bamako, Mali, a merger of WAHC and OCCGE to form West African Health Organization (WAHO) was launched and Mali Head of State.

On 5th April, 1979, the West African College of Nursing (WACN) Council was inaugurated, a specialized agency of WAHC. By October 1980, WACN constitution was ratified by the Assembly of Health Ministries in Accra Ghana.

On Tuesday 14th April, 1981, the College was inaugurated in Banjul, The Gambia by His Excellency Honourable  Mr Assan Musa Camara, Vice President of The Gambia.

At the inauguration, 268 Foundation Fellows and 5 Honorary Fellows were admitted, and currently there are about 2000 Fellows. In October 1989, WACN Fellowship programme started with 9 students at the Department of Nursing, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

The College was established with the belief that this would enhance the educational facilities of the Basic and Post-basic Nursing training programmes and across the sub-region.

It was also realized that there is a great need to marshal regional resources to improve and advance Nursing in its totality in the sub-region because in common health there is wealth.

In November 2000, in Bamako, Mali, a merger of WAHC and OCCGE to form the West African Health Organization (WAHO) was launched. The West African College of Nursing (WACN) therefore becomes a specialized agency of WAHO.


The mandate of the WACN is to:

  • Promote excellence in nursing/midwifery education, basic, post-basic and post-graduate levels, and maintain the standard of nursing/midwifery practice within the sub-region.
  • Formulate and support nursing/midwifery educational programmes.
  • Contribute to the improvement of health care within the West African sub-region.
  • Plan and implement continuing educational programmes for nursing/midwifery personnel.

Promote and encourage research in the fields of nursing and midwifery.

In fulfillment of the above stated objectives, the WACN plans and implements workshops and seminars throughout the sub-region. The WACN’s major activities are carried out through its five (5) constituent faculties.


  • The Colleges believes that
  • Health is a fundamental human right that must be promoted and maintained.
  • Man’s ability to adapt to his environment is a determinant of his level of capability.
  • Specific nursing strategies are capable of helping man adapt to the changing environment.
  • Nursing/midwifery is committed to providing culturally-sensitive care to communities.
  • Nurses /midwives utilize theories and principles from nursing biological and social sciences as bases for nursing/midwifery actions and/or effecting changes in the health-illness continuum
  • Professional education enables the nurse/midwife develop excellence in practice and improve practice through reflection.
  • Nursing is committed to quality care through the utilization of research findings for evidence-based practice.