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POLHN’s free online courses improve education opportunities for Pacific health workers

©WHO/Yoshi Shimizu

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has put extensive efforts into providing free e-learning courses over the past 14 years through Pacific Open Learning Health Net (POLHN).

This strives to bridge the gaps between geographically dispersed health workers and address their growing needs for continuing professional development (CPD).

Aiming to develop a knowledgeable, skilled and motivated health workforce using relevant, effective and quality e-learning, POLHN has worked extensively at providing free online courses to health workers in the Pacific, irrespective of their location.

Since 2003, the WHO and Pacific Ministries of Health have together created several self-paced e-learning courses in a wide range of clinical and public health topics. So far, more than 50,000 learners around the world have enrolled in POLHN’s free online courses.

A laboratory technician at work in Nauru General Hospital

©WHO/Yoshi Shimizu

Mohammed Aruf Yasin, Technical Officer for POLHN at the WHO explained why he is so enthusiastic about the platform: “The POLHN model works because it is embedded into the Ministry of Health and is guided by its training and human resource development plan. It is governed by Pacific Ministers of Health and Heads of Health and allows countries to customise, manage, and implement online training to improve both public health and clinical services.

POLHN has recently upgraded its website to become mobile responsive, multi-page and country oriented with improved and up-to-date health-related information. It currently hosts more than 30 e-learning courses, links students with more than 10,000 non-accredited short self-paced online courses, and provides access to 10 specialised online accredited postgraduate programs through its partner institutions.

The e-learning platform provides course developers and health workers an opportunity to explore different teaching methods and learning models. “The upcoming free self-paced e-learning courses will take nursing skills and knowledge to another level,” said Yasin

The new professional development courses will be available in the last quarter of 2018.

POLHN remains committed to developing human resources for health by developing and sharing knowledge with a wider health workforce,” Yasin said. “The ability to transform classrooms into online platform allows course developers to reflect and advance their teaching methods. The content they develop also allows them to use it during their in-class teaching.

Kiritimati Hospital students at their graduation


POLHN continues to create free e-learning courses that are open to health workers for self-development. Those seeking full academic degrees can also apply for POLHN sponsorship to be enrolled into programmes. One such opportunity is the fully online, part-time Master’s degree program in Public Health and Nursing from Fiji National University and the University of Fiji. POLHN plans to continue expanding to other universities in the Australasia region to improve health workforce in the Pacific.