By Aludah Anzemo, Digital Health Program Coordinator, PSI and Christine Odour, Sr. Digital Program Manager, PSI
To build health workforce capacity, there’s no need to start from scratch. There are digital tools and platforms that health workers use every day that we can optimize to support provider education and training.
This is the story of how Population Services Kenya and PSI partnered with the Kenyan Ministry of Health (MOH) to incorporate digital tools, like WhatsApp, into capacity building and provider education programs – helping to meet providers where they are, on platforms they are already using.
Why This Matters
COVID-19 reinforced: health workers need tools to get up to speed quickly on emerging health crises and responses. Using our 10 years of experience driving digital health solutions across 40+ countries, and through the Unilever-funded Hygiene Behavior Change Coalition (HBCC) project, we partnered with the Kenyan MOH to scale digital e-Learning tools that equips health workers to build and continually refine their skills – during COVID-19, and beyond.
Building an Accessible e-Learning Tool
We set out to reach 5 thousand public and private sector health workers in Kenya with an e-Learning course on COVID-19 Vaccine. The MoH chose to house this course on WhatsApp since it is easily accessible and used by most health workers. WhatsApp is integrated with the open-source Learning Management Software Moodle in the e-Learning platform Kassai. Kassai captures daily learner experiences and performance on a customized dashboard for MoH members to track progress and identify knowledge gaps.
The learners self-register for the course once they click on this link that guides them to the WhatsApp chat. The course has the following six modules with quiz questions at the beginning and end of each.
- Module 1: COVID-19 Introduction and Background,
- Module 2: Introduction to COVID-19 Vaccines,
- Module 3: COVID-19 Vaccines in Kenya,
- Module 4: COVID 19 Vaccine Safety,
- Module 5: COVID-19 Information, Education and Communication,
- Module 6: Common Myths and Frequently asked Questions on COVID-19 Vaccination
Launched in November 2022, after three months, the course has 3,369 users and 2,382 of them (71%) are female. Overall, the course has an engagement rate of 73% (2,465 users have started module 1) and a completion rate of 69% (2,317 users have taken the post-test). 85% of the users who have completed the test have attained the required minimum fifty percent grade.
- Build demand by spreading the word: To ensure that the course reaches a wide audience of health workers across the country, MoH members held sensitization workshops in three Kenya counties with lowest COVID-19 vaccine uptake and high COVID-19 infections: Nairobi, Mombasa and Kiambu. MoH representatives also went online to promote the course through existing WhatsApp groups of health providers. Population Services Kenya helped to promote the course using an education campaign on their Facebook page.
- Health workers are busy. Incentivize providers to complete the training: To incentivize completing the course, the Nursing Council of Kenya and Council of Clinical Officers agreed that nurses and clinical officers who successfully complete the e-Learning course are eligible for twenty continuous professional development points which contribute towards the total points needed for their license renewal.
- No need to reinvent the wheel. Start with provider insights, and go from there: The world is becoming increasingly connected, building a strong foundation for digital health solutions. PSI aims to develop e-Learning approaches to support digital capacity building strategies for frontline health workers, but we do not need to reinvent the wheel. Like we did in Kenya, putting e-Learning tools on platforms health providers are already using helps to build accessible, sustainable, and effective education programs that drive impact.
As we build capacity, health workers can more effectively deliver high quality care in their communities. Taking learnings from Kenya, PSI will continue to collaborate with governments and MoH members to identify capacity building opportunities using digital health tools.