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Blended Learning in Zambia (BLiZ)

[last update: Feb, 01 2021]

project timeline: 2016 - 2022

Promoting medical-humanitarian action

The BLiZ medical-humanitarian project is funded by the Else Kröner-Fresenius Foundation with the aim to help people and to sustainably improve the health care of people in developing countries.

In collaboration with the Chainama College of Health Sciences (CCHS) and the cooperation partner SolidarMed, the first Blended Learning in Zambia (BLiZ) project phase from 2016 until 2018 supported through the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung strengthened human resources and improved quality health care of medical licentiate practitioners (MLPs) remarkably.

The continuation of the BLiZ project was highly welcomed and anticipated by Zambia's' Ministry of Health, as well as by all BLiZ project partners. To this end, we have a unique opportunity at hand with the BLiZ2 project to have a meaningful impact on the MLP program, especially with the recent efforts of Zambia to upscale the much-needed national health workforce with the new Levy Mwanawasa Medical University (LMMU) that is to become the national training hub for the future health workforce of Zambia. The LMMU training concept mirrors the decentralized MLP-practicum satellite sites with regional hospitals employing existing health infrastructure for medical teaching.

Context and importance of the project

Zambia’s rural areas are severely underserved with only seven clinicians per 10,000 people (urban areas: 16/10,000 people), Although Zambia launched efforts to reduce the severe shortage of health workers, rural areas remain a significant challenge as they are insufficiently covered by health facilities. The recent Zambian National Health Strategic Plan (2017 – 2021) points out that at times "the situation is so severe that some facilities in rural areas have insignificant numbers of staff and in the worst scenario are managed by unqualified staff." This is precisely where the BLiZ2 project steps in: to staff the underserved rural areas with qualified health workers, Zambia is in dire need of an increase in rural-based health workers. BLiZ2 has a crucial humanitarian aspect as it sustainably strengthens the MLP program whose graduates are essential to provide quality healthcare in underserved, rural areas of Zambia where the population is most vulnerable, and the human suffering is the greatest. After completion of the MLP training with the Bachelor of Sciences in Clinical Science, MLPs take on critical responsibilities within Zambia's health system, especially in underserved, rural areas. Over 80% of MLP graduates work in rural areas, 47% of them work at the district level hospitals or level 1 hospitals, and 41% are working at a lower level health facility, such as health centers. As a result, the Ministry of Health has set an objective of more than doubling the MLP workforce, to 600 until 2025. To further increase the numbers of this much-needed cadre and to improve on the quality of the MLP training, blended learning - and e-learning as its substantial component - have great potential, especially for low-resource settings. The continued support of the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung to this very successful first project phase is so crucial to strengthen this cadre of MLPs as they deliver health care to the most vulnerable population in Zambia's profoundly underserved rural areas. 

BLiZ2 entirely aligns with the humanitarian principles of the European Union comprising humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence

Research

The innovative research conducted as part of the BLiZ project is a key element. The overarching objective of the studies we conduct in the realm of the BLIZ project is to evaluate e-learning embedded in a blended learning approach as a means to strengthen medical education within the medical licentiate practitioner /Bachelor of Science in Clinical Sciences program (MLP) at the Lewy Mwanawasa Medical Univeristy in Lusaka, Zambia (a low-resource context). The study focus is on acceptance of e-learning as an educational technology and the effect of e-learning on faculty and student usage and knowledge.

The specific research questions were:

  1. Is the technology of e-learning for medical education accepted, i.e., do faculty and students agree with the technological environment of e-learning as a mode of medical teaching and training?
  2. To which extent is medical e-learning used for teaching and training by MLP faculty and students and how is medical e-learning used online and offline (context, frequency, materials)?
  3. Is medical e-learning improving the knowledge and skills of MLP students, i.e. does the understanding and ability of students improve with the usage of medical e-learning in their MLP studies?

We conduct studies on feasibility, acceptance and methodology among students and faculty on various levels.
I mean, which should be classified as eligible for bonuses, as in previous years. So I would like to ask that the previous decision be revised.

Peer-reviewed Publications

Schmidt, MJ, Chomba E, Syakantu G, Bowa A, Malunga G, Andreadis P, Neuhann F, Barteit S (2021). Evaluation of an electronic logbook to strengthen medical education within the BSc Clinical Sciences at Lewy Mwanawasa Medical University in Lusaka, Zambia (mimeo).

Barteit SJahn A, Banda S, Bärnighausen T, Bowa A, Chileshe G, Guzek DJorge M, Luders S, Malunga G, Neuhann (2020). E-Learning for Medical Education in Sub-Saharan Africa and Low-Resource Settings: Viewpoint. Journal of Medical Internet Research21(1): e12449. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2196/12449 

Barteit S, Neuhann F, Bärnighausen T, Bowa A, Wolter S, Siabwanta H, Jahn A (2019). A Mobile Electronic Platform in the Low-Resource Context of Zambia for Nonphysician Clinical Students: Study on Technology Acceptance and Information System Success. Journal of Medical Internet Research; e14748. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2196/14748

Barteit SNeuhann FBärnighausen T, Bowa A, Luders S, Malunga G, Chileshe G, Marimo C, Jahn A (2019). Perspectives of Nonphysician Clinical Students and Medical Lecturers on Tablet-Based Health Care Practice Support for Medical Education in Zambia, Africa: Qualitative Study. JMIR mHealth and uHealth7(4): e13431. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2196/13431 

Barteit S, Bowa A, Jahn A, Lüders S, Malunga G, Marimo C, Wolter S, Neuhann F (2018). How self-directed e-learning contributes to medical graduate training for Medical Licentiates Practitioners in Zambia, Africa - evaluation of the pilot phase: a mixed-methods study. JMIR Medical Education; 4(2):e10222. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2196/10222 

Barteit, S., A. Bowa, S. Lüders, C. Marimo, Y. Phiri, S. Wolter, F. Neuhann (2017). Implementation of Mobile Medical E-Learning for Higher Medical Education in Zambia – a Zambian-German-Swiss cooperation. Tropical Medicine & International Health22(S1): 115-345. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3233/978-1-61499-852-5-416 

Neuhann, F. and S. Barteit (2017). Lessons learnt from the MAGNET Malawian-German HospitalPartnership: the German perspective on contributions to patient care and capacity development. BMC Globalization and Health; 13(1):50. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-017-0270-4 

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Sandra Barteit

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Florian Neuhann

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Lewy Mwanawasa Medical University (LMMU), Lusaka, Zambia (2019)
Training and evaluation of clinical students at the LMMU (2020)
BSc Clinical Science Students on campus (2017)
Training and evaluation of LMMU faculty members in Lusaka, Zambia (2018)
Student presentations for LMMU medical e-learning platform in surgical topics (2018)