In 2005, AMREF set up the Kenya eLearning Nurses Upgrading Programme with support from Accenture (a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company), and in partnership with the Ministry of Health in Kenya and the Nursing Council of Kenya. The programme was a national programme which scaled up from 12 (four schools and eight eCentres) pilot sites to over 100 sites, including 34 schools, in a span of five years. The scope of the programme included:
- Programme management including coordination, monitoring and evaluation
- Stakeholder management
- Content development
- Capacity building of the implementers and
- Monitoring and evaluation
In 2007, the programme expanded to include the AMREF Virtual Nursing School as a test lab to understand the challenges faced in the use of eLearning to train nurses and find solutions to these challenges. At this point the programme team expanded to include a school coordinator and three nurse educators. The school has since become autonomous and operates as an independent unit.
Today, the Kenya eLearning Nurses Upgrading Programme is being led and implemented by the stakeholders, to whom AMREF handed over the programme in 2010. AMREF remains to provide backstopping, technical support, including programme evaluation, content development to revise the existing content, and programme innovation in response to rapidly changing technology.
Evolution of the Kenya eLearning Nurse Upgrading Programme to the eHealth Programme began in 2009.with implementation of projects such as:
- Conversion of the Diploma in Community Health (DCH) programme to eLearning
- Conversion of six Distance Education (DE) courses to eLearning
- The Centres for Disease Control (CDC)-supported infection prevention and control programme
- Conversion of the national Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) guidelines to eLearning
- Replication of the eLearning programme to various countries across the region including Uganda, Tanzania and Zanzibar, and Senegal
- Support for Ministries of Health in ‘non-AMREF’ programme countries to implement eLearning including Zambia and Lesotho.
With expansion of the programme’s scope from local to regional, and from eLearning to mLearning and mHealth (including health information systems and eCare), the eLearning programme became the eHealth programme. Today, the mandate of the programme is to provide support to projects, programmes, organisations and countries that wish to develop and implement eHealth programmes within and outside AMREF, and to document lessons learned and good practice in the use of technology for capacity building.
The programme has grown from the one active project in Kenya between 2005-2009 to over 15 active projects across eight countries in 2012/13, with more in the pipeline. Key projects the Programme is working on include:
1. Replication of the eLearning programme
Since 2009, the eHealth Programme has actively been sought to expand the eLearning programme across geographies, across cadres and across organisations. As a result, AMREF is currently implementing an eLearning upgrading programme for midwives in Uganda; and an eLearning upgrading programme for nurses and midwives in Tanzania. The first intake in Uganda was in March 2012, while Tanzania’s was in Tanzania.
The eLearning Programme is also being replicated in countries were AMREF does not have a physical presence. In 2012, the eHealth Programme won a bid to provide technical support to Nursing Education Partnership Initiative (NEPI) Lesotho to implement eLearning for pre-service nurses/midwives to strengthen their quality and capacity. The Programme has also secure funding from MasterCard Foundation Canada to support Zambia’s Ministry of Health in implementing a pre-service programme for nurses and midwives. The five-year project will be implemented in collaboration with ChildFund Zambia and will incorporate a life skills component.
2. mHealth Learning Business Case
Mobile phone and internet penetration are on the rise in Africa, with over 70% mobile penetration and 7-10% access to internet. In 2012, nine undersea cables were laid, greatly expanding access to mobility solutions in Africa. Committed to delivering innovation, AMREF is again partnering with Accenture to (i) Develop a clear and articulate strategy and solution for a mobile learning (mLearning) solution, (ii) Identify potential partners across the value chain with respect to content, technology, mobility and funding; and (iii) Develop a high-level business model for an mLearning platform to train health workers across sub-Saharan Africa and generate income for AMREF.
3. mPesa Foundation
The mPesa Foundation is implementing an integrated Health System Strengthening project for Maternal and Neonatal Health. The project will incorporate (i) Patient Information and education which will be led by World Vision; (ii) Training and Up-skilling of Health workers which will be led by AMREF (iii) Patient Health care and financing, to be led by PharmAccess; and (iv) Access to Health Services, which will be led by UNFPA. The project will run for 12-18 months and will initially be implemented in Samburu and Lamu.
AMREF’s eHealth Programme and the London School of Education (London Knowledge Lab) are implementing a two-year research project to design and evaluate a mobile learning intervention for the training and supervision of community health workers (CHWs). Funded by the Department for International Development, the study will involve participatory development of a practice-based mobile learning intervention for community health workers and community health extension workers (CHEWs). The research will be undertaken in Makueni and Kibera areas of Kenya.