An Overview of A Better World Canada’s Medical Teaching Project, October 2016
Submitted by Glen Hutton
The co-founders of A Better World Canada, Eric Rajah and Brian Leavitt, view the organization as an investment company, not an aid agency.
“Instead of giving, we invest and expect a return in improved lives. We expect the community to invest in itself as well, asking for contributions of cash, labour, or local materials as they are able. Then we watch our collective investment grow into an independent, sustainable community.”
The primary goals of the ABW Medical Teaching team are to decrease the isolation and to increase access to area appropriate medical resources for rural Kenyan Health Professionals (HPs).
The members of our team believe that, by choosing appropriate technology and resources, we can help the Kenyan HPs increase their patients’ health literacy and their own medical skills and, in doing so, significantly improve the health of their patients. However, in keeping with the overall philosophy of ABW, each Kenyan HP must invest their own money to purchase a cell phone or tablet. The money the Kenyan HPs pay for their tablets is not the total cost but it is a significant amount of money. For example, this year individuals had to pay 7000 Kenyan shillings (the equivalent of $70 USD) for the tablet; the balance was subsidized by donor funds.
History of the ABW Medical Teaching Team’s Project
In year 1 of the project, six Kenyan health professionals were provided with medical resources using cell phone and computer technology. This group formed our first cohort of health professionals (HPs) in Kenya. The Kenyan HPs received/purchased a cell phone loaded a library of medical apps and resources, an e-mail forum was set up to allow them to share experiences and seeking help with diagnoses, opportunities for online education, and a connection with North American mentors.
In year 2, the project was expanded to 24 Kenyan health professionals. Instead of cell phones, the ABW team brought over 7 inch tablets. These tablets were loaded with area appropriate medical apps and medical resources for both the health care professionals as well as for their patients (patient education videos). Once again the Kenyan HPs had to pay a certain amount for their tablet.
This year (year 3), we had 47 participants in our cohort. We loaded their tablets with several new medical and multimedia apps as well as additional text and video resources.
Ongoing Communication with members of the Kenyan cohort using Whatsapp
All team members are set up in a chat room on Whatsapp. This app was selected because it is already widely used by the Kenyans and (unlike Facebook) it alleviates concerns with patient confidentiality (only those who are invited can view the postings). The intention of the chat room is to give the HPs in Kenya the opportunity to discuss with each other cases that they are seeing. Through the chat room, Dr. Wade is able to mentor the HPs conversations and direct their discussions. Dr. Wade acts as a sounding board, and will help the HPs find answers to questions on the apps that have been provided. Because of time delays, urgent care questions need to be handled immediately by the Health Professional on the ground. However, chronic conditions or groups of similar cases can be discussed by the whole group over time. In phase II of the project, we would like to involve a mentor at one of the local hospitals.
First Aid Kits
In addition to the teaching and the technology, the team brought backpacks filled with first aid supplies. Primarily, the backpack first aid kits have the equipment for medical officers and nurses who often end up delivering babies outside of the clinic (home births). Once again, the medical officers had to pay for a portion of these kits (they paid for the actual back packs and ABW donors provided the funds to purchase the supplies for the kits).
The ABW Medical Teaching Team includes:
• Barbara Wade – Team Leader and Project Coordinator
Our teachers from Canada:
• Dr Len Wade, MD – Family Physician
• Dr Paulette Comeau, MD – Family Physician, with a focus in Obstetrics
• Dr Wayne Church, MD – Family Physician
• Dr Bev Prieur, MD – Pediatric Neurologist
• Bev Knutson Shaw, BEd, MET (Masters in Educational Technology)
• Vicki Hutton, BEd, MEd (Psychology)
The support team includes:
• Glen Hutton – IT support
• Jim Harris – logistics
• Janice Harris – finance
• Jane Machacek – participant interviews and first aid kits
In October 2016, the ABW Medical Teaching Team offered courses for 3 group of students:
1. New students 2. Returning students 3. Patient Education students
Two, 3-day courses were held at Mara Aardvark Lodge near the Oloolaimutia Gate (There are six gates into the Masai Mara reserve: Oloololo and Musiara in the north, Talek gate, Sekenani and Ololamutiek on the eastbound. Sand River Gate takes you into Tanzania on the western border of the Mara river.)
• Sunday Oct 16, Mon Oct 17, and Tues Oct 18 – 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
• Repeated Thurs Oct 20, Fri Oct 21, and Sat Oct 22
• Trauma and introduction to the resources located on the tablets (Dr. Wade)
• am: Pediatric Exam skills/Peds Neurology (condensed) (Dr. Prieur)
• pm: Breech Deliveries and Shoulder Dystocias: Management (Drs. Comeau, Church)
• pm: Case Presentations (groups combined) (Drs. Wade, Prieur, Comeau, Church
• Pediatrics IMCI Modules (Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses) (Drs. Wade, Prieur, Comeau, Church)
• Dermatology Resources (Dr. Wade)
• Video Presentations
Patient Education Video Production
(B. Knutson Shaw, V. Hutton)
In addition to working with medical officers and nurses, the Medical Teaching Team is also offering a 3-day course to people working in the health field, who deal with counselling and patient education. We would like to teach these individuals to be able to create patient education videos for their own work, and at the direction of other members of their team (COs, nurses). Over the 3 days they will create a public service video, and will present their videos to the whole group on the last day.