Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Capacity-Building for Public Health: Http://peoples-uni.org/Renforcement Des Capacites En Sante Publique: Http://peoples-uni.org/Desarollo De Capacidad De Salud Publica: Http://peoples-Uni.Org

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Capacity-Building for Public Health: Http://peoples-uni.org/Renforcement Des Capacites En Sante Publique: Http://peoples-uni.org/Desarollo De Capacidad De Salud Publica: Http://peoples-Uni.Org

Article excerpt

Introduction

Most low- to middle-income countries (LMICs) have to cope with a wide range of health problems that interfere with their future economic development. Even in countries where the economy is booming, such as India, health inequalities are widening and health care is becoming unaffordable. Public health is a major priority, especially to address the spread of AIDS, tuberculosis and common infectious diseases, as well as the emergence of chronic disease epidemics. In several countries, improvements in child and maternal mortality have reached a plateau.

Health is improving more slowly in many LMICs than in richer countries, increasing international health disparities. A trained workforce of health professionals is essential but, for many reasons, there is currently a lack of adequate capacity. This has been well articulated recently in many arenas, including The world health report 2006: working together for health. (1) In response to this, WHO has established the Global Health Workforce Alliance (http://www.ghwa.org), whose Scaling Up Education and Training Taskforce is co-chaired by the author of, and informed by, Global Health Partnerships: the UK contribution to health in developing countries. (2)

In the field of public health, it has been estimated that in India, for example, there is a need for 10 000 graduates of Masters of Public Health (MPH) courses each year for the next ten years (http://www.phfi.org/home. asp). Where local universities offer relevant courses, they may be unable to meet the numerical need through provision of limited numbers of places on face-to-face courses. Fees for overseas universities are higher than can be afforded by most potential students in these countries. For both local and international courses, the need to travel for this education may be both costly and inappropriate in the context of personal or geographical restrictions. In particular, this may limit access for women and those health workers with low salaries. Capacity-building is thus essential, but inadequate at present.

An inspiration

The free and open-source software (FOSS) movement provides inspiration for an affordable and credible solution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOSS). Many hundreds of individuals have contributed to the development of high-quality software which is freely available on the Internet. The Linux operating system (http://www.linux.org) and the Apache server (http://www.apache. org) are excellent examples. Quality is ensured by constant "peer review" by users who make changes to improve the software. The Apache web site states: "The Apache projects are characterized by a collaborative, consensus-based development process, an open and pragmatic software license, and a desire to create high quality software that leads the way in its field. We consider ourselves not simply a group of projects sharing a server, but rather a community of developers and users." Can this be applied in the field of public health capacity-building?

In the education field, there are now parallel developments of Open Educational Resources (OERs) with an ever-expanding range of high-quality online resources that are freely available through the Internet. There is major international interest and commitment in the use of OERs, as demonstrated by the UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning's Open Educational Resources Community (http://oerwiki.iiep-unesco.org/index. php?title=Main_Page).

Web 2.0

Web 2.0 refers to the evolution of Internet use from the one-way transfer of information (Web 1.0) to collaboration and participation among users. In the context of education, students are not just recipients of education but are involved in collaboration in learning activities, expressed as eLearning 2.0 or Education 2.0 (http://en.wildpedia. org/wild/ELearning 2.0). Education 3.0 is considered to be the extension to this, where open-access materials are created and adapted by various collaborating groups and individuals including the students. …

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