A globally networked hybrid approach to public health capacity training for maternal health professionals in low and middle income countries

Glob Health Res Policy. 2017 Mar 1;2:8. doi: 10.1186/s41256-017-0027-x. eCollection 2017.


Background: MundoComm is a current NIH-funded project for sustainable public health capacity building in community engagement and technological advances aimed at improving maternal health issues. Two to four teams are selected annually, each consisting of three healthcare professionals and one technical person from specific low and middle income countries (LMICs) including Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, and other LMICs. MundoComm is a course with three parts: in-person workshops, online modules, and mentored community engagement development. Two annual 1-week on-site "short courses" convened in Costa Rica are supplemented with six monthly online training modules using the Moodle® online platform for e-learning, and mentored project development. The year-long course comprises over 20 topics divided into the six modules - each module further segmented into 4 week-long assignments, with readings and assigned tasks covering different aspects of community-engaged interventions. The content is peer reviewed by experts in the respective fields from University of Rochester, UCIMED in Costa Rica, and faculty from Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic who maintain regular contact with the trainees to mentor learning and project progress. The purpose of this paper is to report the first year results of the MundoComm project.

Methods: Both quantitative and qualitative feedback (using online data capturing forms) assess baseline and post-training knowledge and skills in public health project strategies.

Results: The course currently has one team each in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Honduras for a total of 12 trainees. The course and modules include best practices in information and communication technologies (ICTs), ethical reviews, community engagement, evidence-based community interventions, and e-Health strategies. To maximize successful and culturally appropriate training approaches, the multi-media didactic presentations, flexible distance learning strategies, and the use of tablets for offline data collection are offered to trainees, and then feedback from trainees and other lessons learned aid in the refinement of subsequent curricular improvements.

Conclusions: Through remark and discussion, the authors report on 1) the feasibility of using a globally networked learning environment (GNLE) plus workshop approach to public health capacity training and 2) the capacity of LMIC teams to complete the MundoComm trainings and produce ICT-based interventions to address a maternal health issue in their respective regions.

Keywords: Community Engagement; Dominican Republic; Learning Management System; Maternal Health; Online Training.