Last updated: 29.11.12

Amref using e-learning to train Ugandan midwives

The African Medical and Research Foundation (Amref) is rolling out e-learning to train midwives to diploma level in Uganda.

According to the organisation, without more sufficiently skilled nurses, healthcare in the country will not meet the fifth millennium development goal of cutting down maternal mortality rates by 2015, the Guardian reports.

Currently, only 38 per cent of the 11,759 midwives in Uganda have the correct qualifications and are fully registered, while Amref is looking to make this 100 per cent.

As a result, midwives are beginning to study in their spare time so they can put what they learn into practice in the workplace, while they are not leaving their much-needed roles for training.

So far, 73 women who would otherwise be unable to undergo further development have been enrolled into the pilot programme, but there are still many students who either cannot understand the technology or lack reliable internet connections.

Amref student Jackeline Kobusingye told the news provider that computers are new to her, adding "e-learning is a big challenge" and some of the machines are broken "and sometimes there is no power".

However, Nicholas Tembo, district education officer for Arua in north-west Uganda, said these hurdles should not stand in the way of innovative practices.

He spoke of the importance of online activity and stated digital education is a great new method for studying as it allows students to take responsibility over their own learning.

Mr Tembo continued: "Secondary schools here use solar power for computers. Surely they can share them with midwives? It is about forming partnerships. We are learning from the challenges and we can overcome them."

The foundation's approach has already been met with success in other nations, such as Kenya, where e-learning has been used to train more than 7,000 nurses in five years.

According to Amref's online learning project manager Eva Musimenta, once the pilot scheme is over, the charity is looking to introduce digital education to other districts in Uganda and fulfil its aims of lowering maternal mortality rates.