24 May 2021
Like the rest of the world, Uruguay had to consider the model through which vaccination against COVID-19 would be carried out; key to this effort is training health personnel.
Through an initiative proposed by nurses and specialists in educational technology from the University of La República, in partnership with the country office of the Pan American Health Organization, Regional Office of the World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and the PAHO/WHO Virtual Campus of Public Health, in January 2021 a course offered by the OpenWHO platform was adapted to the specific conditions of the Uruguayan territory and translated into Spanish, so that health personnel would be responsible, trained and ready for the vaccination process.
The OpenWHO course was offered in English and was seen as a great opportunity to contextualize the content for Uruguay. At that time, the beginning of the vaccination process was already in sight in the country, which would be carried out by nursing graduates and experts in vaccination, who are nursing assistants. It was understood that knowledge had to be provided to the professionals responsible for the vaccination campaign even before knowing exactly what type of vaccines would reach the country. Uruguay has been characterized by having a robust vaccination system with a long history and credibility from the Honorary Commission for the Fight Against Tuberculosis and Prevalent Diseases; it was necessary to give tools to the professionals in charge of the process.
By using an OpenWHO course and the PAHO/WHO Virtual Campus of Public Health, the training is an open educational resource, which can be replicated, self-administered and completed at each user's own pace.
The adapted course launched 1 March 2021 and within 24 hours there were 1000 registered participants. Almost 2 months after the start of the course, more than 5000 participants have already completed it (60% of total participants). The remaining 40% of individuals have consulted the materials for specific information and guidance, supporting a knowledgeable health workforce. This course is now used in 20 Spanish-speaking countries and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Through this process, the role that higher education institutions play in creating accessible and openly available courses and resources for those on the front lines became abundantly clear. Furthermore, this type of technological resource can be used as an elective course within university curriculums, thus allowing for the updating of professional skills.
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