The 2021 Physiopedia and ReLAB-HS massive open online course (MOOC) titled “Understanding Rehabilitation as a Health Strategy” paves the way for future work to integrate rehabilitation into health systems.
Globally, about 2.4 billion people are currently living with a health condition that benefits from rehabilitation. With changes taking place in the health and characteristics of the population worldwide, this estimated need for rehabilitation is only going to increase in the coming years. Global rehabilitation needs continue to be unmet due to multiple factors, including a lack of trained rehabilitation professionals or the lack of up-to-date rehabilitation related training in existing education programs.
“When I studied medicine, there weren’t any courses in physical rehabilitation medicine, so I am looking forward to improving my knowledge through [this online platform]” said Harioanirina Ramahenina, a doctor of medicine at a rehabilitation centre in Madagascar.
Building a skilled rehabilitation workforce as one of the key areas which will underpin the scaling up of rehabilitation as a health priority. With less than 10 skilled practitioners per 1 million population in many low- and middle-income settings improving access to education is a priority.
With USAID support, ReLAB-HS has supported the training of nearly 2000 people in rehabilitation knowledge through the 10th annual Physiopedia MOOC titled “Understanding Rehabilitation as a Health Strategy.” This MOOC aimed to equip health care professionals with a comprehensive knowledge of rehabilitation within the current global context, so they can play an effective and proactive role in local and global efforts to increase access to high quality rehabilitation.
Impact of the MOOC
Darine Alem, a physiotherapist in Sudan said “this is one of the most important courses that should be done by all health care providers. I learned valuable principles of rehabilitation during this course. I’m looking forward to sharing my experience with my colleagues and applying it in my workplace.” In agreement, Isaac Lwanga a doctor of medicine in Uganda stated that the “course is indeed insightful on what rehabilitation is and how much it can supplement patient care!”
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are freely available courses, delivered online, on a suitable platform and have the potential to engage a large number of learners from different countries at any one time. They provide an accessible, affordable and flexible way to learn new skills, advance careers and deliver quality education experiences at scale.
The course reached a very wide demographic. Of the 10,703 people that registered for the course, 1,753 individuals started before the end of the facilitated course period in October 2021 (the course remains available for people to do in their own time). 107 countries split equally between high and low income and 25 different professions, including carers and patients, were represented (see more data in the evaluation report).
There was a 37% completion rate (common MOOC completion rates are stated as 15% or less) with 95% of these people citing an improvement in knowledge related to rehabilitation. Overall it appears that the course was able to improve the learners’ awareness of the role that all rehabilitation professionals can play in advocating and developing rehabilitation services. The most important change highlighted was the need to ensure more person centred or family centred care that involves the patient and their support structures throughout each phase of the rehabilitation process.
“I am a nurse practitioner in Kenya. I am very happy with this online course! Every rehabilitation professional should participate in this course as it can shape the face of rehabilitation and the perspective of rehabilitation to both the clients and the healthcare professionals. THANK YOU!” – Kipkirui Peter, nurse practitioner from Kenya
Accessible and affordable online courses continue to provide an effective method to improve rehabilitation knowledge globally. With USAID support, ReLAB-HS will continue to develop online courses related to rehabilitation to improve knowledge and skills in health care professionals worldwide in an effort to contribute towards building a skilled rehabilitation workforce to meet the need for rehabilitation services.
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ReLAB-HS is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is implemented under cooperative agreement number 7200AA20CA00033. The consortium is managed by prime recipient, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.