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on a positive impact

Sharing my knowledge and skills to further strengthen professional development of health care workers on the front lines of care

By Kerstin Koppensteiner

In the past 6 months I have been working as a corporate volunteer with the NGO CCBRT (Comprehensive Community based Rehabilitation in Tanzania) to support and further strengthen their training centre, the CCBRT Academy. Through the Johnson & Johnson’s Secondment Program, I have had the opportunity to understand the impact and the potential of projects like this first hand. Please learn more about my journey in the following blog that focuses on how to strengthen professional development of health care workers while regulations, opportunities and financial resources are lacking.

Let me start by sharing a few facts on Tanzania’s health sector. Like most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Tanzania is facing a big shortage of health workers at all levels. Currently the health sector operates with less than half the required health workforce. There are for example 7.7 doctors and nurses per 10,000 people, which is below the 23 per 10,000 people recommended by the World Health Organization. (MOHCDGEC, 2015; Barker, 2016). The health sector is also characterized by inadequate health workers training and education systems, poor health infrastructure and working environments, as well as low health service financing. (HRH Country profile July 2013)

Even though the National Professional Qualification Framework provides clear guidance of what Continuous Professional Development (CPD) for doctors and nurses should look like in Tanzania, the full implementation of CPD programs is still pending. Training programs for working healthcare staff to deepen practical knowledge or to achieve specialization are scarce.

CCBRT is a Tanzanian health care organization that works to prevent disability, provide affordable medical and rehabilitative services, and aid empowerment of people with disabilities and their families.

Last year, the NGO founded the CCBRT Academy, Centre of Excellence in Clinical Education, to train CCBRT’s own staff as well as health care professionals working at other hospitals.

As Johnson & Johnson Secondees my colleague Lorenzo Eandi and I had the opportunity to help define the journey of the CCBRT Academy to become a self-sustaining and revenue generating social enterprise that contributes to the charitable work of the hospital.

The main goal of our Secondment was to support the further development of a sustainable business model and to strengthen the brand development of the CCBRT Academy. CCBRT has a long tradition in training and capacity building. However, many trainings were organized, planned and executed as individual events, lacking a long-term sustainable educational model that brings theory and practice together. The focus was more on on-the-job training and competence-building than on offering accredited and recognized specialization programs.

This is where the Academy comes in for different reasons:

  • to address the striking training needs in selected specialisms, 
  • to address the gap between the educational system and practice in the hospitals,
  • to generate revenue to reinvest in the charity work of CCBRT

As a first step it was important for us to approach our internal colleagues. In cooperation with the different departments we did a baseline assessment on training needs and opportunities and put together a comprehensive training catalogue (reaching from Infection Prevention over Obstetric Emergencies to Customer Care) for the academic year 2019/20.

In order to meet the high workload of the participants, the CCBRT Academy is offering not only face-to-face learning, skills-training and simulation practice but also blended and online learning.  

Due to the particularly intense collaboration, one of my personal highlights was a positioning workshop with my local colleagues. During this interactive workshop we developed a strong positioning statement of the Academy, a value proposition and an Academy Logo in its own right.

Apart from the colleagues with whom we had worked out the training catalog, the knowledge about the Academy and the understanding how CPD has an impact on their professional well-being seemed to be rather limited. To change this we prepared an opening week beginning of September. Highlights of the week were daily taster courses where every employee was invited to join to get a “flavor” of trainings at the CCBRT Academy.

Every day more and more people took part in the courses, learning about the Academy and becoming great ambassadors for the ongoing work of the Academy. Now that the business model is defined, and the marketing tools are in place, the Academy is gaining traction and opening its gates up to external participants. 

At the end of our secondment it was great to welcome Jane Griffiths, Ben Davies, David Higgins and Anthony Gitau, colleagues from the Johnson & Johnson Global Community Impact team, at CCBRT.

“The continuous professional development of frontline health workers ensures that they update and improve their technical skills, gain soft skills that they might not have received in their pre-service training”, said Anthony from Nairobi. “A sustainable solution for the delivery of these programs, like CCBRT Academy, would be a great addition to the health system.”