Health workers in Vanuatu improve skills

27 June 2014 - Since WHO’s Mr Rex Thomas was assigned to manage the Pacific Open Learning Health Net (POLHN) learning centre and programmes in Northern Vanuatu a few years ago, participation in continuing professional development activities has increased markedly. Health workers in the area have greatly enhanced their computer skills and used these to develop their professional skills.

At a recent graduation ceremony health workers who have undertaken distance and flexible learning in the past year formally received their certificates before representatives from the Ministry of Health, partner universities, WHO and local community leaders. The graduands included:

  • five nurses and one doctor who received the International Postgraduate Paediatric Certificate (IPPC) from the University of Sydney,
  • three laboratory technicians who were awarded the Diploma in Medical Laboratory Science (DipMLS) from the Pacific Paramedical Training Centre (PPTC) in New Zealand and
  • a further three lab technicians who received course certificates from PPTC.
  • 27 health workers received POLHN certificates for completion of basic computer training and
  • 4 others received certificates from POLHN’s partners: USAID Global Health eLearning Center and BMJ Learning.

The Acting Director-General for Health congratulated recipients and said as the Ministry undergoes reform "it is timely that POLHN students are graduating with their respective skills". By actively seeking new information and learning opportunities, health workers studying through POLHN demonstrate their interest in improving the health services they provide.

This is the third year in a row that POLHN has held a graduation ceremony for health workers in Vanuatu. Each year health workers are building on their skills and participating in more challenging and diverse courses. Mr Thomas has played a pivotal role in facilitating basic computer training, liaising with course provider partners and providing support to encourage students to be conscientious in their studies. The number of health workers completing courses is also increasing. Looking forward to 2015, a further 10 nurses are expected to complete the IPPC program, 3 laboratory technicians are to complete the DipMLS and many more will participate in CPD activities to improve the services they provide to local communities.

POLHN certificate presentation ceremonies in Vanuatu 2012 and 2013

As Vanuatu’s Ministry of Health decentralises services to increase the preventative and primary health care focus of the national health system, POLHN’s learning centres in Vanuatu’s six provinces are an integral mechanism for ensuring health workers have continued access to new and relevant information and opportunities to improve their skills.

Attending the ceremony, the Private Secretary to the Minister of Health, representing the Minister, explained how POLHN's programmes complement the Ministry's reform efforts: "Health reform requires a focus on upskilling human resources to deliver health services and reflect the 'door-to-door policy' of the Ministry.” The Ministry of Health's door-to-door policy is about bringing health services closer to the communities who need them.

Finally, Mr Thomas, POLHN Coordinator in Northern Vanuatu, said he is satisfied with the achievements of the POLHN students and that "within a short timeframe, much has been done and I hope that all the graduates will use their knowledge to provide quality health services to people in Vanuatu".

The POLHN family would like to extend our congratulations to recent graduates and encouragement to those presently undertaking courses.

Congratulations and all the best!