In 2004, the NCK and Ministry of Health (now Ministry of Medical Services (KMOMS) and Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation (MOPHS)) approached the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) – the largest healthcare Non Governmental Organization in Africa – to develop a curriculum to up-skill the enrolled nurses using distance learning.
With this in mind, AMREF approached, Accenture (a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company), in 2005 who announced a US$2.9 million donation to the AMREF to implement an innovative electronic learning (eLearning) Programme to increase the number of qualified nurses in Kenya. eLearning was the preferred mode due to its interactivity, cost effectiveness, ease of revision and ability to achieve the goal in less time and at a lower cost than the residential Programme. It would also enable continued service provision, instant application of learning and improved quality of care.
Since its inception in 2005, this award-winning program has trained over 5000 nurses which has reportedly had a positive impact on the quality of services provided within their communities. 105 regional training centers (where students access the eLearning) have been set up with a total of 463 computers and over 230 nurse mentors. In addition to nursing skills, the computer literacy levels of the nurses have increased as a result of the Programme. The successes of the Programme over the past three years led to increased interest in replicating the Programme from countries within the African continent
Despite its successes, the Programme has faced numerous challenges. Although research has shown that eLearning is faster, more cost effective, more flexible, interactive and more efficient than the conventional method, the experiences have on the most part been from the developed world. In low income countries where rural connectivity and IT skills are still a constraint; there is lapse on information that could guide implementers on costs, logistics and infrastructure, policies and the implementation process. From inception of the program, there were no guiding principles on how to go about in implementing the e-model.
AMREF therefore set up the AMREF Virtual Nursing School, a model for researching into and testing eLearning best practices as a methodology for scaling up and up-skilling these nurses in particular and health workers in general.
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