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 Thursday, August 29, 2013

After spending about six months in the process every year, Lobeni has managed with outstanding efforts to get her licence renewal so far, but this clearly costs her a lot of money and time that she often cannot afford. Just like Lobeni, nurses and midwives in Malawi have to follow these courses and ICTs are playing a role to make this possible in rural areas without the burden of travelling to main towns.

Thanks to an ICT-based Continuing Professional Development (CPD), implemented by IICD in collaboration with the National Organization of Nurses and Midwives (NONM) in Malawi, Lobeni has not only gained more credits to renew her licence, but she has also enhanced her computer skills, access to current health information and self assessment.

Besides more complex comprehensive solutions on e-learning systems (CMS, LMS, etc.) the project started right after the ‘stone age’, by having staff from NONM scan the official nurse manual, which was later saved as PDF and made accessible to all nurses at the health facility. NONM also bought laptops, modems and Internet bundles, and trained about 20 nurses in basic ICT skills. A CDP coordinator, who is in charge of grading the exams within this system, was also trained.

Common challenges usually found in rural and often impoverished communities, such as shortage of equipment and frequent power blackouts, can be overcome by expressly setting up solutions with minimum bandwidth and energy requirements. Yet in this kind of ICT-based projects, the main challenges are often people-related. In order to facilitate multi-stakeholder involvement and create local ownership, the project and technical solution are designed together with the implementing partner, including the capacity development activities, training, installation and customisation.

Aiming to explore and analyse the possibilities of taking the NONM’s CDP platform to the next level, IICD’s Technical Adviser Maurizio Bricola travelled to Malawi earlier this year, “we had a very productive first meeting that ended up with four main action points. After the meeting I had a session on Drupal and Quiz module with the ICT officer to discuss local installation and customisation”.

NONM made a prompt start in three hospitals, the Mchinji District Hospital, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre and St. Andrew Hospital in Kasungu, with a potential to reach out to about 1000 nurses.

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