A Burnet-supported Midwifery Education Program has overcome COVID-19 restrictions to deliver virtual training to midwifery educators and academics in Asia-Pacific.
The Faculty Development Program (FDP), implemented by Burnet’s Global Women’s and Newborn’s Health Working Group, in collaboration with UNFPA Asia Pacific, aims to strengthen midwifery education across the region, thereby improving the quality of midwifery education.
Burnet Senior Midwifery Specialist, Rachel Smith, is leading the development and implementation of six modules designed to build the capacity of midwifery educators across Asia to develop quality education. She said improving midwifery education was a proven way to reduce maternal and newborn deaths.
“Recent evidence examining the potential impact of appropriately trained and supported midwives concluded that investment in midwifery education could provide a cost-effective solution to improving maternal and newborn health outcomes and reducing mortality, and is an investment in women and children,” she said.
The FDP program, she said, focused on building capacity in midwifery educators to design, develop and implement their own high-quality curricula to train midwives in their communities.
Module one of the program, Curriculum Development and Review was delivered online in late 2020 with 16 countries and module two, Developing Graduate Attributes in February 2021.
In her opening address of module two, Catherine Breen Kamkong, the Reproductive Health Advisor from UNFPA Asia Pacific regional office reminded participants, “Your mission is critical – to educate and graduate midwives who have the skills and attributes that women want, need and deserve”.
Ms Smith said the FDP had adapted to COVID-19 distancing and travel restrictions by moving to online delivery. Despite the challenges, she said the latest module was popular, attracting close to 200 participants from 21 countries.
“Although the program was initially designed to be delivered as an interactive face-to-face program, the transition to online learning has been well accepted,” she said.
“It is all online using interactive breakout rooms and we encourage teams to come together in their own countries to complete the work.
“The use of a blended approach to learning, including a learning platform for easy access to resources, weekly ‘live’ webinars, Facebook discussions and regular email contact has provided support for learners.”
Limited internet proved difficult for participants in Timor-Leste, so the midwifery faculty gathered at the UNFPA office to undertake their virtual sessions.
It is estimated that by the end of 2021, more than 180 midwifery educators will have completed the program, building capacity and strengthening midwifery education across the region.
Ms Smith said her group plans to roll out the program in the Pacific Island countries in 2021/2022 with the UNFPA Pacific Sub-Regional Office.