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Upskilling health workers for the future

Pacific Open Learning Health Net (POLHN) is continuously adapting to prepare the Pacific health professionals by upskilling health workers for the future. It works against the rapid and drastic changes in the fields of non-communicable diseases, communicable diseases, and climate change. This is known as the triple disease burden.

An article entitled Demographic Transitions and Economic Miracles in Emerging Asia links good health with reduced absenteeism and increased worker productivity. The report emphasises the economic gains related to investment in the workforce development and education sectors. The investment allows skills enhancement, thereby enabling health workers to identify and detect early danger signs of illnesses and furnishing them with knowledge to avoid unnecessary chaos.

Preparing health workers

The recent external review by University of Technology Sydney, shows that POLHN, since its inception has been preparing health workers for contemporary tasks and skills reshaped by the triple disease burden.

The report does not predict POLHN’s future work, however it provides recommendations to ensure POLHN is well prepared to respond to the needs emerging from the changes and challenges in the Pacific.

The proficiency of POLHN means it is equipped to produce a workforce with the competencies necessary to thrive in the challenging conditions. This flexibility allows countries to customise, manage, and implement online training to improve both public health and clinical services. In doing so countries are able to produce a more productive and innovative workforce.

The benefits of MOOCs

POLHN uses a style of teaching known as “Massive Open Online Courses”, or MOOC. This method is becoming increasingly important for remote health workers looking to reskill and upskill in order to adapt to meet the needs of the future service industry. Learners are able to build onto their existing skills as well as learn new skills in a way that does not require them to stay away from work or family.

The recent POLHN upgrade allows learners to access MOOCs from their handheld devices with nominal mobile data. The platform will soon allow students to download and store course packages for later use. In addition to that, the free online course platform has recently released new courses. Topics like Obesity and overweight, Nutrition, and Healthy Diet prepare caregivers with knowledge and skills to counter growing NCD crisis in Pacific.

On top of this, Ministry of Health and licensure boards will now be able to verify POLHN course completion certificate. This process will allow greater transparency as employers and accrediting bodies will be able to authenticate certificates before relicensing health workers.

The skills acquired through continuing professional development and e-learning will equip the current health industry to become better analyst and critical thinkers.

The team at POLHN believes that upskilling and reskilling through continuing professional development will be able to keep Pacific health workers equipped to battle of the overpowering disease burden.