General
05 Apr 2012

$1 million funding to train Health Extension Workers in Ethiopia

The Open University and The African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) have received more than $1 million of new grants to support the Ethiopian Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education’s goal to train 2,000 new Health Extension Workers (HEWs). This funding, from the Barr Foundation in Boston, Massachusetts, will help to build the capacity of the Ethiopian training schools, refine and develop the Level-IV HEAT training curriculum, and rigorously evaluate the programme.

The Open University, through its Health Education and Training (HEAT) programme, has been collaborating with AMREF in Ethiopia since April 2009, to help upgrade the knowledge and skills of the country’s 30,000-plus community health workers. The project, carried out with the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health, is central to Ethiopia’s response to the Millennium Development Goals. Ethiopia’s target is to reduce child mortality by two-thirds and maternal mortality by three-quarters by 2015.

With this new funding, The Open University and AMREF will build on their existing expertise to support the ongoing development of the Level-IV Health Extension Programme over the next three years. Up to five million people depend on HEWs for their healthcare, so the potential impact is significant.

Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, said: “This new phase of work will make a real difference in Ethiopia. We will build on our successful collaboration with AMREF and play a pivotal role in enabling the HEAT programme to achieve its aspiration of reaching hundreds of thousands of health workers delivering crucial health services to millions of people.”

Dr Joao Soares, Country Director, AMREF Ethiopia, said that his team is delighted to have the opportunity to take forward the programme and is looking forward to its successful implementation. “Scaling-up the HEW training will ensure more HEWs have the competencies required for quality health delivery and attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.”

“The Open University and AMREF have already demonstrated how HEWs can significantly improve the health of mothers and children in rural communities. We are thrilled to partner with them and the Ethiopian Ministry of Health on the scale-up of this important program,” Heiner Baumann, The Barr Foundation’s Director of Global Programs, concluded.


Editor’s Notes
1. HEAT (Health Education and Training) uses The Open University’s established and successful distance-learning to support African health experts in developing learning materials for rural health workers, which they can use while remaining in their communities delivering crucial health services.

The HEAT materials are studied alongside practical skills training, helping health workers to provide better care for mothers and children and to improve their knowledge and skills in antenatal care, safe delivery and postnatal care. The programme also equips health workers with the skills to treat common childhood illnesses including pneumonia and diarrhoea; to counsel mothers on the importance of nutrition for growth and development; and to prevent and treat a range of non-communicable and communicable diseases.

2. The Barr Foundation is guided by a vision for a vibrant, just, and sustainable world with hopeful futures for children. Originally focused exclusively on Boston, Massachusetts, the Barr Foundation established Barr Global as a pilot in 2010. Currently focused in sub-Saharan Africa, Haiti and India, the Barr Global team is building a portfolio of projects focused on four areas: Livelihoods, Health, Environment and Education

3. AMREF (The African Medical and Research Foundation) has country offices in seven African countries and trains health workers working in 40 African countries to ensure that every African can enjoy the right to good health by helping to create vibrant networks of informed and empowered communities and health care providers working together in strong health systems.

Specifically, AMREF seeks to up-skill and scale-up human resources for health (HRH), including community health workers, nurses, clinical officers, and health managers to address the HRH crisis across the African continent. Since 2005, AMREF's national eLearning programme in Kenya has enrolled over 8,000 nurses and graduated over 4,500 nurses from enrolled to registered status. AMREF is now implementing an eLearning upgrading course for midwives in Uganda and nurse/midwives in Tanzania, as well as testing the effectiveness of mobile learning to upgrade the skills and knowledge of health workers. Kenya and Senegal AMREF is piloting intergrated eHealth platforms (eLearning, Telemedicine and Health Information Systems) for district hospitals with support from the European Space Agency.

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