While significant progress has been made, communicable diseases are still responsible for millions of deaths in children in the WHO African Region each year. Therefore, it is vital that all healthcare workers in the Region have the knowledge and skills to prevent and treat the most common childhood illnesses. To achieve MDG4 of reducing child mortality by two third by 2015, compared to 1990, considerable efforts need to be made to improve the performance of healthcare workers, particularly through cost-effective training methods on the prevention and treatment of childhood illnesses. Therefore, as recommended in the WHO/AFRO regional child survival strategy, the integration of immunisation and the management of childhood illnesses is of the highest importance.
At present, train-the-trainer methodology is the primary way of conveying knowledge to healthcare workers and nurses. This methodology comes with certain challenges. Firstly, there is inherent inconsistency in the output by the trainers. Therefore, the knowledge gained by students is also varied. Secondly, the great number of healthcare workers in the region make it difficult to keep them up-to-date with changes in immunisation and IMCI protocols through workshop and training sessions. And thirdly, a rapid staff turnover means there are always new staff needing to be trained in EPI and IMCI.
Against this background, WHO/AFRO, in collaboration with NESI and ITEM Interactive, has developed an interactive resource on Immunisation and the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI), designed for the training of healthcare workers.
The primary objective of the development of the EPI/IMCI interactive resource is to produce an efficient, cost-effective training tool that can be used throughout the Region. This will improve knowledge-retention, develop the skills of both experienced and trainee healthcare workers/nurses, increase their performance when delivering healthcare services and lead to a more satisfactory outcome for patients/clients.
This interactive resource is mainly targeting healthcare workers at the peripheral level, but can also be used for training at medical and nursing schools. The EPI/IMCI resource is ideal as a classroom aid, but can also be used as a self-learning tool. Video demonstrations are the next best thing to real-life demonstrations. The resource is always available on the computer for reference to check procedures.
The tool is available in French, English and Portuguese, and will be distributed on USB flash drives or memory sticks, supported by a reference handbook. The content of the resource was drawn from existing WHO and local training materials to ensure consistency with the current training curriculum. This resource builds on the experience of ICATT (IMCI Computerised Adaptation and Training Tool) developed by WHO in 2008 with the aim of increasing the coverage of IMCI-trained healthcare workers. The WHO guide "Immunisation in Practice" was used as key reference document to develop the EPI component of this resource.
The EPI-IMCI interactive resource is a comprehensive training package including:
- Over two hours of video shot in Burkina Faso and Ghana;
- Seventeen video chapters with narrations in three languages;
- Questions and Answers section before and after each chapter to reinforce the key messages;
- References and posters;
- Transcript of the video chapters;
- ICATT programme; and,
- Certificate after completion of the programme.
The interactive resource is ready for field testing in selected countries in the WHO African Region, which will take place during the first 6 months of 2014.