HEAT program @ the OU Conference – day 2

Live blogging, 2pm – Conference Day 2

HEAT: Health Education and Training in Africa

Talk by Alison Robinson (programme coordinator)

Challenges in Africa:  high incidence of maternal and child mortality, HIV/AIDS , TB and malaria increasing, critical shortage of health workers, inadequate facilities and equipment. In Africa there’s 900 maternal deaths per 1000,000 births. Africa has 11% of the world’s population.

HEAT helps to address critical health workers shortage. The strengths of the HEAT program are that it delivers significant impact for relatively small investment, and it has the potential to train hundreds of thousands of health workers. HEAT materials can be delivered in print, online or disk.

The pilot country of HEAT is Ethiopia. One of the reasons is that all post-secondary education and training in Ethiopia is taught in English. Total population is around 81 million, of which 84% live in rural communities. Every year around 21000 Ethiopian women die due to complication of pregancy or childbirth. It is a country of contrasts.

The health extension workers in Ethiopia are paid a small salary by the Ministry of Health.  They need to be female, speak local language and basic English, amongst other things. Health Extension Workers’ initial training need to be upgraded to overcome the deficiencies in their initial training, and also because the workers are keen to have a career path. The HEAT training is provided by distance education. Restrictions on classroom capacity and availability of teachers would take more than 10 years to upgrade 31,000 health education workers.  Distance learning can be completed between 18-24 months.

HEAT will be an online knowledge bank of training materials, both in text and in multimedia form, delivered as OER . It will also include self-assessment questions, resources and toolkits with case-studies etc.

HEAT has the support of the Ministries of Health and Education in Ethiopia, funded by the Allan and Nesta Ferguson Trust. There will be 16 distance e-learning modules, each one assessed by means of a tutor-marked assignment. The first 4 out of 16 modules are being prepared and are due for completion be end of July.

Challenges: some authors are experiencing difficulties in writing in a second language. They are also leanring the methodology of distance learning.

Alison says that the work in Ethiopia has been enourmously rewarding.

HEAT beyond Ethiopia: all modules will be free to download. Conversations are taking place to localise the content to Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana and Zambia.  Modules are adaptable also outside Africa.

HEAT vision: ot create a consortium of countries and organisatiosn working together aim to tackle social inequalities in Africa.

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