e-Learning for midwives
MANILA, Philippines – An international development agency and microchip giant are coming together to address one of the core factors that impact the health of both mother and newborn: the learning gap in continuing training among midwives.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Intel, are developing multimedia e-modules that midwives can use to access information and updates on medical technologies. The modules are specifically designed to be interactive and include graphics and videos to demonstrate child-birthing practices and will be piloted in two test countries, Ghana and Bangladesh.
Joining the UNFPA and Intel in the development of these modules are the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Johns Hopkins University-affiliated NGO, Jhpiego.
Mind the learning gap
“The biggest problem in the developing world is that we don’t have quality tutors and lack healthcare workers,” said Geeta Lal, the midwifery program coordinator for the UNFPA during a recent maternal health conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
“There’s a huge deficit of about 4 to 5 million healthcare workers [in the developing world]. Even where we have these workers, they are not properly trained. That’s what causes maternal and newborn mortality,” Lal said.
According to a joint report made by the UNFPA, WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank, an estimated 287,000 maternal deaths occurred in 2010, a decline of 47% from levels in 1990. Sub-Saharan Africa (56%) and Southern Asia (29%) accounted for 85% of the global burden (245,000 maternal deaths) in 2010. The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in developing regions was 15 times higher than in developed regions.
Currently, 3 modules have been developed on the management and handling of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, post-partum hemorrhage, and prolonged and obstructed labor.
“In countries with high maternal mortality rates, we see the enhancement of midwifery skills in these 3 key areas to help cut down maternal deaths by half,” said Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of UNFPA.
However, Osotimehin is quick to caution that the e-learning modules are not meant to be viewed or used as a midwifery licensing or certification tool. “This tool is meant to provide skills where they are lacking. The training is to supplement their knowledge of already certified midwives; this by no means is a replacement for traditional training and education.”
Alternative to books
“Once a midwife is trained, she spends most of her time in the field administering births. She doesn’t receive training on additional or new knowledge and this represents a knowledge gap, especially in developing countries,” said Narayan Sundararajan, Global Healthcare Program Manager for Intel.
“If we were to put this information in books—writing a booklet and getting printed takes a lot of time. We need to address the period they [midwives] go through without any refresher [training] or update,” added Sundararajan.
Midwives can access the modules in an assigned health care unit center, download them onto a thumb drive (USB) and access it anywhere and anytime. The modules run on the Intel skool Healthcare Education, which tracks the worker’s usage and records which modules have been opened and accessed. The performance on module quizzes is also recorded.
“We have tested and ascertained the Internet and 3G connectivity in the test sites of Ghana and Bangladesh,” Sundararajan added.
While still in the experimental stage, health officials and experts are optimistic about using technology-based interventions to address healthcare gaps and see programs such as the e-learning modules as the new way of disseminating knowledge.
“We hope that the multimedia platform, which is interactive and rich in imagery will make learning easier and help the knowledge gap among healthcare professionals like midwives,” Sundararajan concluded. – Rappler.com