AMREF has launched an mLearning project that will enable nurses and midwives in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to use their mobile phones to develop in their profession and keep up to date with latest medical knowledge.
The project was launched at the AMREF International Training Centre in Nairobi on August 28, 2012, with government officials from the three countries in attendance.
Chief Guest Dr Esther Ogara, head of eHealth at the Ministry of Medical Services in Kenya, lauded AMREF for taking the lead in initiatives that will contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by the year 2015. She said that mHealth was one of the pillars of the Kenyan Government’s Health Strategy, launched in August 2011 and assured AMREF of the government’s support of the project. “We have been looking for partners to implement the strategy and we are glad AMREF has taken the lead,” she said.
Government representatives from the three countries commended AMREF for quickly adopting novel ideas to increase health workers’ access to education. The project has received a boost from the Dutch Postcode Lottery which has given a grant of 1.7 million euros to facilitate a study on how effective mobile phones are in the training of health workers.
Training of human resources for health has been at the core of AMREFs operations since 1962 and different models have been used since then - from the use of classrooms, to a radio station, Dr AMREF, to use of electronic gadgets. In 2005, AMREF, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, the Nursing Council of Kenya and with funding and technical support from Accenture, implemented a national eLearning programme to facilitate the rapid skilling and up-scaling of nurses in Kenya. To facilitate access to the eLearning material, AMREF rolled out a network of 110 eLearning Centres located in health facilities across Kenya. At that time, no other organisation had ventured into training health workers via eLearning. The programme has since been recommended as feasible and effective and has been replicated in Uganda, with similar plans for Tanzania and Zanzibar.
Mobile devices can allow health workers to access information without the limitations of cost. Mobile phone usage in Africa is booming and a large number of people here own a mobile phone, making this an excellent opportunity of using the mobile phones as educational tools.
The mLearning project will enable nursing staff and midwives in the three East African countries to develop their professional knowledge without leaving their workplace. They will also be able to use the system to seek advice from colleagues and other experts. This in effect will ensure provision of better quality care and easy consultations, therefore making them better equipped to serve their own communities and less inclined to move from rural areas to cities.