Maternal Health Task Force

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E-Learning: Building the Capacity of Frontline Health Workers

In a recent post on the Huffington Post Impact blog, Closing the Capacity Gap in Saving Lives at Birth,  Muhammad H. Zaman, Director of the Laboratory of Engineering Education and Development at Boston University, makes the case for the development of e-learning courses aimed at building the capacity of frontline health workers.

He opens his post with a description of recent trends in infant and maternal mortality, highlighting progress but also explaining that the the numbers of deaths are still unacceptably high. Zaman goes on to explain why he believes that e-learning has enormous potential to strengthen the capacity of frontline health workers to meet the needs of women and newborns.

From the post:

For a moment, now let us shift our attention from these sobering statistics to something more positive. Over the last five years, online education and collaborative e-learning have started to reshape higher education landscape around the globe. With the success of Khan Academy and collaborative ventures (like EdX) coming out of prestigious academic institutions, high quality education can now reach the most distant corners of the world. Enrollment for online courses routinely reaches a hundred thousand or more per course. This positive change is not only welcoming because it allows traditional and non-traditional students to take high-quality courses, it also enables a truly global learning. It is now possible for a nurse in rural Cambodia to take a course from a lecturer in Cambridge and a farmer’s daughter in Botswana can now learn from a Professor in Berkeley…

It is important to note that to date, online education consortia have focused largely on higher education and have provided little technical training in the context of public health. However, I believe that providing rigorous certificate courses through interactive online learning and using appropriate and necessary quality control mechanisms will make a tremendous impact in training quality health workers…

Read the full story here.

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