The Pacific Open Learning Health Net: Providing Health Education in the Pacific

The Pacific Open Learning Health Net: Providing Health Education in the Pacific

Steven Baxendale
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0206-9.ch015
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This chapter describes the experiences of the Pacific Open Learning Health Net (POLHN) in providing online, face-to-face, and blended professional education to health professionals in 12 developing Pacific island countries. The chapter reviews the establishment of learning centers with Internet access in hospitals, nursing schools, and health centers.
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Access to continuing professional development of health workers in Pacific Island countries has been limited due to reliance on face-to-face methods of training. As discussed in Chapter 4, the remoteness of the islands makes regularly scheduled face-to-face training very expensive.

Even in countries where health professionals had access to some continuing education, there was little evidence of participation. Koleth (2006) surveyed health workers in three major cities in Fiji in 2006. He reported that only 54% of health workers in those three cities had ever engaged in any continuing education after receiving their degree or diploma. This figure is especially significant considering continuing education was defined as attending even one hour of a presentation or reading a journal.

However, the opportunity for health workforce to engage in continuing education directly impacts their ability to improve health services to Pacific islanders. In past decades, face-to-face teaching was the only option because Internet cost was too high, bandwidth too small, and access too limited. That has now changed. The cost of travel is on the increase while the cost of Internet continues to decrease. Online learning seems the most promising future direction for health-worker training in the Pacific.

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