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e-Learning/Distance Learning

I-TECH’s distance learning and e-learning projects provide opportunities for health care professionals in resource-limited settings to gain knowledge and skills while minimizing their need to leave the workplace.

I-TECH distance learning projects typically have four goals:

  1. Increase the capacity of health care workers in resource-limited settings to deliver high quality care and treatment while allowing them to remain in their workplaces to provide services at their sites.
  2. Build the capacity of ministries of health and governmental institutions to use learning technologies and design blended learning, e-learning, and distance learning programs for health care workforce development.
  3. In collaboration with the UW Department of Global Health’s E-Learning Program (eDGH), provide technical assistance in effectively using e-learning, blended learning, and distance learning for health care workforce development.

Examples of I-TECH’s e-learning products are available in eDGH’s E-Learning Library.

Program Highlights

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Clinical Mentoring

Clinical mentoring is a critical component of I-TECH’s comprehensive approach to training, as it provides a bridge between didactic training and independent clinical practice. Clinical mentoring enables health care workers (HCW) to practice new skills in clinical settings with the support and guidance of a more specialized and experienced clinician. Intensive, practical training is especially important in HIV care and treatment given the diversity of illnesses associated with AIDS and the complexities of antiretroviral therapy (ART).

Typically, the clinical mentor is an experienced clinician-trainer who provides onsite training and consultation on complex cases; supports and enhances high level problem solving, diagnostic, and decision-making skills; leads case discussions; and addresses issues of quality assurance and continuing education. These mentoring activities take place in the context of an ongoing, two-way relationship between the mentor and the clinicians working at the site.

The I-TECH approach to mentoring includes five key components:

  1. Relationship building. The establishment of a trusting, receptive relationship between the mentor and mentee(s) that evolves and grows over the course of mentorship is the foundation of effective mentoring practice.
  2. Identifying areas for improvement. Observation and assessment of existing systems, practices, and policies leads to the identification of areas for improvement. I-TECH has developed a number of tools for use during the assessment phase. Information obtained during an assessment helps to inform the establishment of goals and objectives for the mentorship.
  3. Responsive coaching and modeling of best practices. Mentors must demonstrate proper techniques and model good clinical practice. Targeted activities with mentees may include demonstrating appropriate examination techniques, modeling proper infection control measures, and setting examples for establishing good rapport with patients.
  4. Advocating for environments conducive to quality patient care and provider development. This component relates to technical assistance in support of systems-level changes at a site. Mentors work with colleagues to enhance the development of clinical site infrastructure, systems, and approaches that can support the delivery of comprehensive HIV care.
  5. Data collection and reporting. Mentors support the utilization and integration of patient data into clinical practice by encouraging staff to adopt documentation practices that promote effective chronic disease management. Mentors can help demonstrate the utility of data collection and reporting to mentees during mentorship.

The ultimate goal of I-TECH’s clinical mentoring programs is to build the skills of local clinicians to become clinical mentors themselves. Ideally, as the pool of expert HIV/ART clinicians in each country expands, a network of local HIV clinical mentors will emerge to support and train other HIV clinicians with less experience.

Program Highlights

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Health Policy & Regulatory Strengthening

The International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH) has broad expertise in strengthening health care regulatory systems in low- and middle-income countries. I-TECH’s approach to regulatory strengthening emphasizes the importance of sustainability and country ownership, by working with ministries of health, health professional councils, and health professional associations to:

  • Conduct sound situational analyses and needs assessments;
  • Develop standard operating procedures to efficiently operationalize and scale key regulatory activities;
  • Develop regulatory information management systems;
  • Develop standards to establish consistent expectations for high quality health services; and
  • Develop continuing professional development frameworks and guidelines.

Program Highlights

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Field Epidemiology Training Program in Malawi

The Frontline Field Epidemiology Training Program (Frontline FETP) enhances the capacity of HIV and AIDS surveillance and strengthens health systems. The program contributes to a sustainable response to HIV by training health professionals in basic field epidemiology that can support responsiveness to HIV surveillance needs.  Continue reading “Field Epidemiology Training Program in Malawi”

Site-level Data Improvement and Use in Namibia

I-TECH continues to focus efforts on the improvement of data quality and use of data to improve clinical decision making. I-TECH works at the site level to build awareness and buy-in for data quality and use among site-level management and health care workers.

On-site I-TECH Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Officers and Program Assistants monitor completeness and accuracy of service delivery documentation from the point of patient encounter to the point of final data capture in Ministry of Health and Social Services electronic databases. M&E Officers promote the use of data by clinicians and facility management for systems improvement and performance enhancement.

Cervical Cancer Screening and Treatment in Namibia

I-TECH supported the Ministry of Health and Social Services in 2017 and 2018 in the development and dissemination of the national Cervical Cancer Prevention Guidelines including algorithms for screening, referral, and post cryotherapy instrument disinfection, and monitoring and evaluation tools. Continue reading “Cervical Cancer Screening and Treatment in Namibia”

Training through Distance Learning in Namibia using the Project ECHO Model

I-TECH in Namibia spearheaded use of distance learning for HIV care and treatment through the establishment of a digital video conferencing network to link Windhoek with training sites and hospitals throughout the country starting in 2008. Building off that foundation, Namibia became the first country in Africa to implement the Project ECHO model, a tele-health platform started at the University of New Mexico, whereby clinicians in remote areas connect with rotating subject matter experts and clinicians a robust virtual community of practice to build health care worker capacity, support peer-to-peer cross-facility learning and reduce feelings of professional isolation.

Continue reading “Training through Distance Learning in Namibia using the Project ECHO Model”

VMMC for HIV Prevention in Namibia

I-TECH assists the Ministry of Health and Social Services with the expansion and provision of voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) as an HIV prevention option. This support started in 2008 with the development of national guidelines and training materials, followed by national trainings of health care workers. In 2015, this support expanded to include direct service delivery in the Oshana and Zambezi regions, as well as Karas region from 2017 onward. Since 2016, I-TECH has also supported demand creation with a network of community-based mobilizers and recruiters using a human-centered design approach to actively engage communities and stakeholders to increase the number of men voluntarily electing medical circumcision. The program has performed over 36,000 VMMCs in Namibia.

I-TECH has trained physicians, nurses, and community counselors to ensure that adequate skills and experience are in place to deliver safe, high-quality male circumcision services.

Support for Pediatric HIV Care and Treatment in Namibia

I-TECH works to strengthen the quality of pediatric HIV care and treatment in Namibia through the development of a “model” pediatric HIV clinic and supporting decentralization of quality pediatric care to other facilities. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Services, I-TECH developed an innovative, structured, culturally-relevant intervention to help guide health care workers and caregivers of HIV-positive children through the process of disclosing a child’s HIV-positive status to the child.

An evaluation of the disclosure program showed that it increased health care worker and caregiver confidence and communication in pediatric disclosure, as well as demonstrating improved viral suppression, adherence, and HIV knowledge among pediatric patients. I-TECH clinicians have also worked at the site level to support the development, implementation, and monitoring of strategies to improve adolescent HIV services and transition of adolescents from pediatric to adult care.

Strengthening the HIV Care Continuum and ART Adherence in Namibia

In accordance with the HIV Care Continuum, I-TECH supports direct HIV care and treatment service delivery as well as on-site clinical mentoring and technical assistance in 81 facilities in five regions of Namibia. I-TECH supports key evidence-based strategies such as provider-initiated HIV counseling and testing, eMTCT, and decentralization of ART services to the clinic.

In collaboration with the MoHSS, I-TECH is implementing “Treatment for All” guidelines (December 2016), an HIV care and treatment approach that initiates patients on lifelong antiretroviral therapy as soon as they test HIV-positive. I-TECH has developed an interactive education and counseling intervention, ARVs and Healthy Me, for health care workers to support HIV-positive patients in attaining good adherence and engagement in care.

To improve the quality of data for use in clinical decision-making, I-TECH actively participates in national technical working groups and advisory committees, and conducts rigorous monitoring and evaluation (M&E) to build awareness and buy-in for data quality and date use among site-level managers and health care workers.