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Digital E-Learning Package for Family Planning

Training Doctors and Nurses during Covid Lockdown

The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted lives and work around the globe. Since the declaration of the coronavirus as a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020, workplaces moved to home-based work, and this necessitated changes in the way other business-related activities like meetings, training, and workshops were conducted.

The pandemic and associated lockdowns hurt health systems and continuity of public health training of service providers. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) had recently introduced new contraceptives in its national family planning program, and in-person training was ongoing for service providers on the injectable contraceptive DMPA (Depot-Medroxyprogesterone Acetate), also called Antara in government health facilities. Covid-related lockdowns and travel restrictions presented enormous obstacles for continued classroom training of doctors and nurses.

So in November 2020, the MoHFW asked Abt Global to develop an online digital training course on DMPA as a replacement for the in-class courses. Abt had been a long-standing MoHFW technical partner on family planning as a member of the National Task Force for Family Planning and Technical Resource Group, which supports the national roll-out of new contraceptives.

Abt took only three months to develop the online training on DMPA (Antara) in English and Hindi, pilot the courses in several states, and make it available for rapid national roll-out. Abt enriched the DMPA online training package by integrating insights from its ongoing interventions in five Indian states on follow-up counselling on family planning and facility-based mentoring of service providers. The training modules included interactive audio-visual sessions, which replicated a classroom learning environment. To enhance the learning experience, the modules prompted participants with session-specific questions and facilitated live discussion sessions for questions and answers.

Abt piloted the training with service providers from several states in both languages. Abt also conducted training of master trainers (MTs) in all 28 states and eight union territories. Overall, 121 MTs attended the online training. This institutionalized the project technical inputs for a nationwide DMPA roll out and helped standardize the training content.

The online training has a number of benefits. Mid-level trainers with little experience can use it. It provides consistent quality compared with cascade training, whose quality can vary depending on the trainer. And by eliminating travel, it saves time and money and enables rapid scale up to reach a large number of people in a short time.

“The digital training has been prepared so efficiently that it makes us feel that we are sitting inside the classroom. We didn’t miss the classroom training. The synch between videos and ppt is effectively designed,” said Dr. Saurabh Rajput, Medical Officer, PHC, Etah, Uttar Pradesh, who attended one of the two pilot training courses.

Noting the advantages of the digital training package, Dr. RDN Swetha, Assistant Professor, OBG, Vizag Medical College, Andhra Pradesh, opined “This digital training package is extremely useful as any trainer can use these self-explanatory training videos even in the classroom training without any loss of the training quality, which used to be the major problem in conducting training, as the quality of the trainers has the maximum impact on the learning of the trainees.”

All 28 states and eight union territories are now ready to start using the online training for doctors and nurses who provide DMPA. States such as Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have completed the online training of providers using the digital package. Providers can attend the training from their homes and upgrade their skills for providing the service. “The digital training package saves us from travelling and hence, saves a lot of time and money for the government,” said Dr. Nivedita Chakravarty, MO, Shahdara, New Delhi. The doctor complimented the MoHFW’s vision for coming up the idea of digital training. And doctors and nurses have expressed their appreciation for the quality of the training package that Abt provided.

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