AMREF’s ground breaking and award winning electronic learning (eLearning) project has launched in Uganda. The project which is designed to rapidly and cost effectively upgrade the skills of midwives, nurses and health workers across Uganda, was launched following a stakeholders meeting in Kampala.
“I am very pleased and indeed delighted to witness the beginning of the eLearning project in Uganda,” said the Minister of Health Honourable Stephen Malinga who presided over the launch. “As you are all aware, one of the biggest challenges in the health sector, not just in Uganda, but all over the world is the critical shortage of health workers. They are the backbone of the health system and are placed to be the bridge that will close the gap that exists between communities and the peripheral end of the health system.”
In Uganda, there is only 1 nurse for every 2,000 people, and only 1 doctor to per almost every 200,000 patients, which is far below what is recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure optimal care. For nurses, WHO recommends that there be 1 nurse for every 10 patients.
“Our nurse training institutions have been unable to train enough health workers to keep up with the country’s population growth rate and the increasing disease burden,” Said the honourable minister. “The Ministry of Health therefore greatly appreciates the introduction of this innovative eLearning approach to increase access to quality, standardised training. ELearning has already been successfully used by our partner AMREF to rapidly and cost effectively up-scale nurses in Kenya. By fast tracking the training, this eLearning project will greatly enhance the capacity of Uganda’s health system to provide care for the people of this country.” He reiterated.
The launch also saw the formation of a representative steering committee put together to guide the development and implementation of the project.
AMREF’s Country Director, Joshua Kyallo, expressed that the success of AMREF’s work is largely based on strategic partnerships. He requested the stakeholders to utilise their knowledge and expertise to ensure the feasibility and success of the implementation of the eLearning project in Uganda. “AMREF’s approach is to develop models that can be replicated across Africa. In this same spirit, the eLearning model, has been tried and tested in Kenya, and is now being replicated in Uganda. AMREF hopes to continue the replication throughout East Africa and beyond,” he added.
The launch, which took place at the Imperial Royale hotel in Kampala, drew participants and representatives from the ministry of health, ministry of education and sports, health training institutions, health facilities and other development partners. Other participants included representatives from the ministry of local government, professional health councils, the medical bureaus, the Uganda nurses and midwives union and council among others.
“The future lies in our innovative use of technology to improve the way our communities work, live, learn, communicate and, now, take charge of their own health,” said the minister. “The Ministry appreciates AMREF’s role in introducing this project and the Fresenius Foundation’s financial support through AMREF in Germany. Indeed it is only through working together in partnership and collaboration with other stakeholders like these that we will be able to get this country on the road to good health.”
AMREF, in a classic public-private partnership with the Nursing Council of Kenya (NCK), the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), Accenture, the Kenya Medical Training Colleges, several private and faith-based nursing schools and the Ministry of Health Kenya pioneered a country-wide eLearning programme for upgrading nurses in Kenya. The programme commenced in September 2005 with a pilot of 4 schools and 145 students and aims to upgrade 22,000 Enrolled Community Health Nurses (KECHN) from ‘enrolled’ to ‘registered’ level within 5 years.
ELearning was the preferred mode due to its interactivity, cost effectiveness, ease of revision and ability to achieve the goal in less time and at a lower cost than the residential programme. It would also enable continued service provision, instant application of learning and improved quality of care.