By Dr. Kashef Ijaz, Vice President-Health, The Carter Center
Following on my commentary last month regarding health care capacity building at the community level, it’s fitting now to acknowledge our government partners’ eagerness and ability to exercise ownership of programs taking place within their borders.
A prime example is the Carter Center’s Public Health Training Initiative. PHTI is a joint effort between The Carter Center and the federal ministries of health in partner countries to increase the number of health professionals who will focus on improving maternal and child health — a significant need in many countries.
The initiative focuses on:
Enhancing the learning environment of adult students enrolled in state health science training institutions.
Improving the competency of health science educators and health professionals by training them how to employ effective teaching methods.
Producing learning materials tailored to each country’s context and health needs.
The goal is a better-trained health workforce that has been educated in a system that is self-sustaining. Some of the graduates will become tomorrow’s instructors, so the improvements are perpetuated through succeeding cohorts of learners and care generally advances.
Since 2017, The Carter Center has worked with Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health to fortify the health care workforce in six states in Nigeria, enhancing the skills of community health workers to improve maternal and child health. Recently, the Nigeria Public Health Training Initiative transitioned from a Carter Center-assisted project to state-level ownership in each state.
“Nigeria has a great need to train and keep healthcare professionals in the country,” said Alhaji Abubakar Tambuwal, provost of the College of Nursing Science, Sokoto state. “The Carter Center worked with us to help strengthen this training so our health workers can provide essential life-saving care, such as safe pregnancy and delivery services for mothers and child immunizations.
“With tools, training, and resources from The Carter Center, the project advanced to the point where it could be fully absorbed by Sokoto state. The Center has done its job here, and so have we!”
In addition to training in didactic methods, The Carter Center provided classroom furniture, desktop computers, office furniture, laboratory equipment, textbooks, teaching and learning aids, computer training, internet service, and equipment demonstrations.
The impact is evident in academic performance, Tambuwal said. The pass rate at his school on both the nursing and midwifery certification exams increased from 65% in 2016 to 100% in 2019, he said.
A public health training initiative also was completed in Ethiopia from 1997-2010. The Ethiopian Public Health Training Initiative worked successfully in partnership with seven Ethiopian universities and the Ethiopia Ministries of Health and Education to address the dangerous void in rural health services for 75 million Ethiopians.
In addition, we intend to continue public health training in Sudan, which aims to enhance the skills of 10,000 midwives and community health workers, as well as 9,000 medical assistants, sanitary overseers, anesthesia technicians, and surgical attendants. Sudan is focused on reducing infant and maternal mortality, and The Carter Center hopes to facilitate as much as possible to help reach that goal in a real and sustainable way.