The potential of eLearning for health

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IMPACtt trials in Tanzania

Skilled human resources are the backbone of any performing health system. But many developing countries face a human resource crisis due to health workforce shortages, brain drain and lack of adequate training. Increasing health interventions aimed at reducing child and maternal mortality and tackling diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB require more and better-trained healthcare personnel. In order to meet the health-related Millennium Development Goals, great emphasis has to be placed on human resource development. eLearning offers a cost-effective approach to train more health workers and to increase quality of care.

Tackling child mortality

Every year, 6.9 million children worldwide die before reaching their fifth birthday. The majority of these deaths could be prevented through a relatively small number of simple, low-cost interventions such as pre-, ante- and postnatal care, vaccinations and antibiotics. To strengthen the skills of healthcare personnel working with sick children, the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development (NFSD) supported the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop an eLearning tool for the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI).

Called ICATT (IMCI Computerized Adaptation and Training Tool), the program facilitates the management, with minimal personnel intervention, of the most common pediatric diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, measles and malnutrition. ICATT can be easily adapted to country-specific features such as treatment guidelines and rolled out for the training of healthcare personnel in IMCI. The tool facilitates faster and more flexible scale up of IMCI training. Training time and costs are reduced and consequently more people can be trained in the management of childhood illnesses. ICATT is currently being rolled out globally through the WHO.

Improving maternal health

Apart from childhood diseases, maternal and newborn health is one of the biggest challenges today. According to the WHO, every day approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. In 2011, the Novartis Foundation and the WHO decided to continue their collaboration and work with the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute to develop an eLearning tool called the Integrated Management of Pregnancy and Childbirth training tool (IMPACtt).

The first module of IMPACtt on Essential Newborn Care has been developed and was successfully tested in 2012 in the Tanzanian Training Centre for International Health in Ifakara, and in early 2013 in Davao City, Philippines. Other modules on antenatal, childbirth and postnatal care are under development.

Implementing training and creating synergies

The Tanzanian Training Centre for International Health (TTCIH) in Ifakara, Tanzania, has become one of the first training facilities to pilot and implement ICATT in the training of health workers. The first module of IMPACtt on Essential Newborn Care was also tested at TTCIH. Apart from using existing eLearning platforms, a project is currently under way to strengthen the capacity of TTCIH to design and develop own eLearning modules. The eLearning@ttcih collaboration between TTCIH, the Novartis Foundation and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) was launched in 2010 with the aim of establishing an eLearning centre of excellence for Tanzania and beyond. The project develops the modules in Maternal and Child Health for the Assistant medical officers’ programme. Currently it has developed 24 sessions in maternal health and child health which are piloted within the AMO curriculum in 2013.The project consists of teams with specific tasks; there is the Technical Team, responsible for the ICT infrastructure setup and management, the Didactic Team responsible for the instructional/learning design, and finally the content providers, subject experts who provide content to the content team. The project team reviews the didactic sessions/modules before they are made available to the Learning management system (MOODLE).The eLearning approach we use is blended Learning.


Special Focus Session on the potential of eLearning for health

Friday, May 31 2013, 11:30 – 13:00

eLearning Africa, Windhoek, Namibia

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