Pacific Open Learning Health Net Review
WHO CC involvement: Michele Rumsey, Jodi Thiessen, Amanda Neill
The WHO CC UTS has recently completed an in-depth review of the Pacific Open Learning Health Net (POLHN) for the World Health Organization (WHO). This review was initiated by the WHO Division of Pacific Technical Support who requested the WHOCC UTS evaluate POLHN and provide recommendations for the online learning network, and its monitoring and evaluation process for the next five years.
The Pacific Open Learning Health Net went live in 2003 as a result of preliminary discussions at the Pacific Health Minister’s Meetings in 1999 and 2001 as an open learning service for healthcare professionals in the Pacific. Today it is an important learning and professional development resource for Pacific health workers. There have been many changes in the context in the POLHN operating environment, such as the increase in availability of short courses through global e-learning environment, increase in the Pacific region’s capacity to study online, and changes in external funding for POLHN.
The WHO CC UTS team used a mixed-methods approach that incorporated quantitative and qualitative data collection such as online metrics, document reviews, student and focal point online surveys and interviews and/or focus groups with relevant stakeholders. The team visited seven Pacific countries (Solomon Islands, Samoa, Nauru, Kiribati, Fiji, Tuvalu, Vanuatu) and interviewed over 150 stakeholders that included: WHO POLHN past and present staff, POLHN centre focal points, Ministry of Health staff including Health Ministers and Secretaries for Health, country staff from Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Australia), educational institute staff and students, end users/students of POLHN; and global e-learning experts.
Data and findings were discussed with WHO technical staff and key stakeholders during the Heads of Health Meeting (Suva, Fiji – 24th to 27th April 2017), and with the Regional Director of WHO Western Pacific Regional Office, and incorporated into a final report and recommendations. Despite challenges, the WHO CC team found that POLHN has managed to successfully bridge several gaps in provision of education for the health workforce in the Pacific, it provides and has resulted in:
• 15 countries, 54 POLHN Learning Centres, 318 working computers are managed by country Ministries of Health who support 52 country focal points to coordinate POLHN.
• Thousands of short courses are also now provided by WHO and three other partners: Lippincott Nursing Centre, Medscape, and Global Health eLearning Centre.
• 362 students have graduated from post-graduate courses through FNU via POLHN since 2008.
• A recognised lack of medical laboratory assistants in the Pacific is being addressed with 91 students having graduated from Pacific Paramedical Training Centre.
• A recognised lack of dental hygienists is also being addressed through Penn Foster with 22 graduates.
• 75% of students surveyed have remained in their own countries during and following POLHN study.
• 87% of POLHN post-graduate students stated that involvement in POLHN courses has been very/extremely useful for their health sector position.
A report with succinct recommendations has been provided to WHO Division of Pacific Technical Support, Fiji.
Click here to find out more aboutPOLHN.