14 May 2021
In Nicaragua, as is the case in many countries across the world, the pandemic has highlighted the significant equity gaps that impact the capacity of health workers in the most remote communities. In these locations, frontline workers must make great efforts in order to receive key trainings necessary to respond to health emergencies.
In the Nicaragua node of the Virtual Campus of the Pan American Health Organization / WHO Regional Office for the Americas (PAHO/WHO) located in Managua, they had to rethink their training practices. They were forced to end face-to-face training and replace it with distance training. The challenges presented by the current context have led them to develop innovative strategies to bring knowledge to health professionals in the most remote areas of the country. In this significant number of communities, many people do not have access to the internet, computer equipment or smartphones.
An example of how these changes have been addressed is the dissemination process for the Diploma on the Management of the Expanded Program of Immunizations. This programme was starting when the pandemic began and is currently running its third edition. Based on contents from OpenWHO and from the PAHO/WHO Virtual Campus for Public Health, the course was distributed via USB sticks that were provided to health workers on the Caribbean coast, a remote area and the hardest to reach of Nicaragua.
This approach enticed participants to continue the training despite the significant limitations imposed by the pandemic. In tandem, a support network was created with their families, the Ministry of Health staff and the PAHO/WHO team. This network helped spin off other initiatives, such as joint work with local authorities from the country’s most remote health units. The collaboration helped provide participants with access to the technological infrastructure of health units to help students complete their distance training.
Additionally, as part of this effort, a network of more than 300 tutors trained by the Virtual Campus for Public Health and dispersed throughout the country has been fundamental in expanding the dissemination of knowledge on a larger scale. These tutors collaborated in the translation of courses available in Spanish into the Miskito language, Mayangna and English. These actions are of great importance for Nicaragua, as it is a multicultural country and content adapted to the local context is needed to make progress in closing the gaps and reach every corner of the country.
The platforms of both the Virtual Campus for Public Health and OpenWHO play an important role in this process because "they put in our hands key tools to be able to advance learning," in the words of Perla Zeledón, lead of the Nicaragua node of the Virtual Campus. The Nicaraguan team, together with specialists from the Ministry of Health, have used the contents of many of these courses and have made adaptations to colloquial language to make it more familiar and understandable to local sensibilities and culture: For example, the Training for health personnel for the application of the vaccine against COVID-19, or Entrenamiento para el personal de salud para la aplicación de la vacuna contra la COVID-19 in Spanish, that will be launched on 24 May 2021.
Thus, the trained personnel and the contents developed have allowed the articulation of work at different levels – national, regional and local – to bring knowledge to the most remote communities and municipalities in Nicaragua.
Photo: WHO/PAHO Nicaragua
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