On June 23, Last Mile Health joined partners, health workers, and the Ethiopia Ministry of Health to share the results of an innovative blended learning training module piloted across 20 districts in four regions of Ethiopia.
“The Ministry of Health has developed a Health Extension Program optimization roadmap to be implemented from 2020-2023 with the goal of improving the accessibility and quality of the health extension program,” said Minister of Health Dr. Lia Tadesse. “Capacity building of health extension workers is one of the key activities to achieve the objectives of this optimization. Health extension workers build their capacity by taking part in integrated refresher training every two years. The traditional training is conducted face-to-face–but we have converted one module into a blended learning approach. This blended approach marks a new chapter in the training of health extension workers.”
Previously, community health workers in Ethiopia (known nationally as health extension workers) attended ten in-person training sessions. In the blended learning module, they attend two in-person sessions, complete five digital sessions using a tablet, and then return for two more in-person sessions. Digital training content is powered by culturally-appropriate multimedia in local languages, and includes animated videos and illustrations designed with a gender mainstreaming approach: the majority of community health workers are female.
The results of the pilot program are promising: the blended training reduces training costs from $605 to $372 per learner while delivering strong knowledge and skills assessment results.
“This approach also strengthens the supportive supervision system by enabling health extension workers supervisors to attend the training alongside health extension workers, and to provide tailored supervision using training data to address knowledge and skill gaps after the training,” Dr. Tadesse explained. “We believe this will contribute toward improving the quality of service.”
Informed by the strong results of the pilot program, Last Mile Health and the Ministry of Health are developing plans to adapt more modules into the blended format–and to scale the pilot program to more of Ethiopia’s 40,000 community health workers, equipping them to bring high-quality care to Ethiopia’s most remote communities.