COVID-19 has created an unprecedented crisis worldwide, highlighting that a well-trained health workforce who can continuously update their skills in response to new pathogens and emergencies is imperative to a population’s health.
Since the confirmation of the first COVID-19 case in Ghana in March 2020, Ghanaian health workers have reported low perceived preparedness to respond to COVID-19.
One of the initiatives that responded to the gap in COVID-19 training to address health worker preparedness was SickKids-Ghana Paediatric Nursing Education Partnership COVID-19 Response Project. It set out to train 10 000 health workers in Ghana by designing and implementing four relevant continuing professional development courses, provided at no cost to course participants.
The implementing partners for this project include the Ghana College of Nurses and Midwives (GCNM), Ghana Health Service (GHS), the Ministry of Health (MoH) Ghana, and the Centre for Global Child Health at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Canada. The project, funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada, is an extension of the SickKids-Ghana Paediatric Nursing Education Partnership (PNEP) and builds on 10 years of collaboration between SickKids and its Ghanaian partners. Courses were designed by the project’s content experts in Ghana and Canada, and one of the project’s primary stakeholders, the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Ghana (N&MC) accredited and promoted the courses.
The courses were delivered through a “two-pronged strategy”: e-learning and in-person. The courses were also adapted for and made available to health workers outside of Ghana.
The courses were designed to target a wide range of health workers including nurses, midwives, and physicians. The first three courses were designed for delivery via the World Continuing Education Alliance (WCEA) e-learning platform, while Course Four was designed for in-person delivery.
The e-learning courses were launched in September 2021. The World Continuing Education Alliance (WCEA) e-learning platform allows users to download course content to their smartphones or other portable devices and continue the course offline. However, users must be connected to the internet to verify course completion and submit answers to multiple-choice exams and evaluation questions and obtain their certificates. To recruit participants, the Ghana College of Nurses and Midwives and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (Ghana) promoted the courses through their websites and social media platforms. WCEA also profiled the courses on their platform to encourage participation.
In-person training started in November 2021 while adhering to COVID-19 risk mitigation safety protocols. A targeted approach was used to recruit health workers from identified rural areas with poor internet connectivity and who do not have frequent training opportunities. The Ghana Health Service Director-General, regional and district managers, facility managers, and the project team collaborated to select participants. Similarly, the head offices of the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG) and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission nominated participants. During the in-person course, participants not only developed competencies around COVID-19, but they also received support to navigate the WCEA platform and were encouraged to take additional e-learning courses to support their ongoing professional development.
For e-learning courses, participants described the learning as “relevant to my work” and “well-structured”. They described the e-learning environment as “logically laid out” and “a faster, safe, and convenient way of learning.” Some felt “encouraged to take other courses on the WCEA app” and “regret not joining the platform earlier.”
The success of the strategy was due to well-established partnerships, the quality and relevance of the curriculum, and the two-pronged delivery approach which maximized reach while reducing barriers to accessing education. Health workforce training efforts need to be accompanied by other investments in health systems, notably facility infrastructure, faculty development, and good-quality data.
This text is an excerpt from the article Assessing a COVID-19 continuing professional development strategy for 10,000 health workers in Ghana: a two-pronged approach published in Human Resources for Help.
Go to the original article, click here: https://human-resources-health.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12960-023-00804-w