Community health nurses (CHNs) are often the primary providers of maternal, newborn, and child health care (MNCH) in rural Ghanaian communities. Yet CHNs face significant challenges to address the health care needs of their communities, which are geographically diffuse and often under-resourced. While CHNs serve a crucial role, they are the least credentialed nurses within the Ghana Health Service, and have limited opportunities for career advancement. Their experience maps with global trends, which indicated that although there are more in-service training programs developed for health workers than ever before, a continuum of learning from pre-service to in-service training is needed.
From February 2014 to December 2015, K4Health collaborated with Ghana Health Service (GHS) and Grameen Foundation under the Concern Worldwide US, Inc. (CUS) Innovations for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health initiative, Care Community Hub (CCH) project to provide CHNs in five rural districts of Ghana access to professional development courses on a variety of family planning (FP) and maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) topics via an Android app. Our goal was two-fold: to provide accessible, high-quality, relevant educational opportunities to an indispensable group of primary care providers and to understand how the provision of learning materials could improve workplace satisfaction and equip CHNs with new technical knowledge.
To date, 14 adapted FP and MNCH courses from the Global Health eLearning Center have been deployed on mobile devices to 220 CHNs and 55 district supervisors. In addition, the adapted courses have been accredited by Ghana’s Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) so that they would count as continuing professional development credit towards the CHNs’ annual renewal of their professional license. This is the first instance in which mLearning courses have been approved for accreditation by NMC.
Research conducted by John Snow, Inc. found that the adapted courses were the most popular feature of the CHN on the Go app. In addition, the research findings indicate that the app has helped CHNs broaden their knowledge and has been used as an alternate source of information when their supervisors are not around. A CHN from Ada East district reported, “For me, it has improved my knowledge on the courses. How to take care of the client, how to counsel the client, that is for my personal use too.” Another CHN reported “it improves on our confidence level and also increase our knowledge.”