It all began with a query from Kitasato University School of Nursing lecturer Yae Yoshino.
The mother and child health care specialist was concerned about improving the state of continued training for nurses in Mongolia, and contacted TDLC Assistant Coordinator Yuka Yabashi to inquire about utilizing video conferencing to address the situation.
Moved by Yoshino’s passion, Yabashi wrote a proposal outlining a distance learning program which focused on maternal and child health care. She got the go-ahead and began organizing a program for the World Bank East Asia Pacific ‘Youth Innovation Fund’, and thus a joint effort began: TDLC managed the distance learning and instructional design, and Kitasato University provided the latest knowledge, based on its experience in Japan.
Hundreds of Mongolian nurses turned up to participate. As targeted, the course reached people not only in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, but also in remote areas of the country. Most Mongolian nurses seldom get a chance to come in contact with the latest information abroad.“By offering up-to-date knowledge from Japan without the burden of transportation and lodging costs, continued training in nursing and empowerment has been realized,” says Yabashi.
“It’s not possible to get instant results after one or two courses, but I hope they will gradually make an impact, and specialist knowledge be utilized.”
Here are some comments from people who’ve taken the course:
—“(It’s) helped mothers on how to feed infants through breast milk”
—“(It’s helped physicians and nurses on) diagnosis of mental, social, and daily lives of pregnant women”
—“Many nurses had an opportunity to update their professional knowledge straight from highly qualified professors from a developed country, and improved knowledge professionally.”
“What is needed to improve health care conditions in a country like Mongolia, with high maternal and infant mortality rates? It’s great to build hospitals or to donate equipment, but the idea here was to link people—those in Japan who have the expertise—with others in different parts of the world needing that expertise, using the distance learning network of the World Bank. It’s been a gratifying experience observing the capacity-building process.”
In March 2009, the Mongolian Nurses Association presented TDLC with a certificate, recognizing its contribution to mother and child care improvement in their country. Yabashi says a third round session of the course is currently being planned for the coming autumn. As participants build upon their expertise, Yabashi hopes they will eventually be able to expand on the distance learning program with additions of their own courses.
Following the 2008 Mongolia program, a new Disaster Nursing Course was held in Indonesia and Timor Leste in February 2009. Over 700 local nurses participated in the two-day distance learning course.
Bright-eyed and eager, Yabashi hopes to continue to work on distance learning training programs for nurses to meet the needs of developing countries.