Implementation of a Maternal Health Curriculum and Distance-Learning Program in South Sudan

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Every woman in South Sudan has a 1 in 7 chance of dying in childbirth. There are no post-graduate training programs in Obstetrics and Gynecology, so that MBBS-qualified doctors remain especially underprepared in maternal and neonatal care. Due to concerns for political instability and safety, a distance learning module was needed.

METHODS:

We first identified topics most pertinent to undergraduate MBBS education in maternal health. We next developed a delivery system for the content as well as obtained funding. We sought resources for the content of the didactics themselves and a method to ensure effective interactive learning.

RESULTS:

From our university's core lectures, we identified critical topics pertinent to maternal care in South Sudan. We secured funding through a nonprofit organization to obtain 84 digital tablets. Eighty-one pre-recorded lectures were loaded onto the devices, which were then distributed to the MBBS students. Two hours daily of small group discussion by our university's facilitator accompanied the lectures. Written tests (n=187) following the intervention showed substantial knowledge acquisition (mean score=63%; SD±12.8%). Debriefing sessions revealed unanimously positive responses to the intervention, particularly to the group discussions.

DISCUSSION:

The use of pre-recorded lectures on tablets and facilitated discussion resulted in successful implementation of a distance-learning program for maternal health in an underserved country. Future research will assess the sustainability and effectiveness of this intervention.

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