Health Workforce Strengthening in Kenya

KMTC Kitui Students

Two students at KMTC Kitui discuss how they like interacting with the K4Health IVR Family Planning Course on their mobile phone. The course utilized mobile technology, specifically interactive voice response, to provide refresher training of family planning information learned through the Global Health e-Learning Center. Credit: Amanda BenDor



The exponential growth in mobile technology offers a plethora of opportunities for providing continuing education and support to traditional in-person training and education programs. In partnership with Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) and the Family Planning (FP) Center of Excellence in Kitui, K4Health sought to explore ways to broaden the uptake of the global health technical content available on the Global Health eLearning Center (GHeL) and K4Health Topic Pages to increase knowledge transfer and retention via popular mobile technologies - Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and WhatsApp.


“Mobile learning is a wonderful way to learn; you learn at your own pace, anywhere, and any time.... Young people love technology; if you teach via it, you as the teacher and students will win!” - Mohamed Abdikaedir, student of Kenya Medical Training College-Kitui 

Using IVR for professional development

In October 2015, K4Health launched an IVR course in Kenya to test how easily and effectively GHeL content—specifically, the quiz and final exam questions of GHeL’sFP 101 and FP Counseling courses—could be technologically adapted to an IVR delivery system. The IVR course was deployed to 233 students at KMTC Kitui and health providers at the nearby Kitui training hospital. Participants reported that they liked the training as they found the content to be useful and that receiving training on their mobile phones via IVR was convenient. The final analysis showed that there was a significant increase in knowledge scores by those who completed the IVR course from baseline to endline, revealing that IVR positively affected FP knowledge.

Additionally, KMTC administrator and staff praised the course and the use of mobile technology to support learning. Mrs. Everlyne Nyamae, Principal of KMTC-Kitui noted,

"There is a need to scale-up the use of the use of mobile to teach more subjects. This will free lecturers from teaching students things that can be learned via mobile technology, then the teacher can engage in following students in clinical areas and other academic matters, such as marking and offering to counsel to students."

She also shared that the examination scores among students who participated in the IVR course were higher than those who did not participate.

Using WhatsApp as a learning platform for continuing professional development

Research and guidance on how to best use WhatsApp messenger for training and learning is limited. As a result, K4Health deployed a time-bound course on healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy through WhatsApp Groups to test the acceptability and usability of using WhatsApp for delivering a variety of types of learning content. The findings from this training activity reveal that WhatsApp is well-received as a platform for continuing professional development. Implementation of the activity also led to a number of lessons learned around training setup, facilitation, and active participation.

Lydia Mutua, a third-year student of KMTC-Kitui shared,

“As a young wife and mother, I can say without fear of contradiction, that the courses were an eye opener. I understand my body better; I can explain to others what HTSP is and what family planning is all about. The courses have equipped me with formidable knowledge. I now know of so many family planning methods that I can use and recommend to others. There is a method for everyone.”

Thomas Mwenge, Lecturer of Health Informatics, explained,

"The methodology promotes interaction; many students are shy, but open up in the comfort of the distance created by the mobile phone.” He further asserted that “the students being of reproductive age were gaining vital life skills that they will apply to their lives apart from helping others.”

Upon completion of these training activities, K4Health in partnership with KMTC, AMREF Kenya, and USAID/Kenya-funded Human Resources for Health (HRH) Kenya hosted a day and a half event to share and discuss different experiences and opportunities that technology presents. They discussed ways to extend the reach of lifelong learning and implement the various continuing professional development policies for health professionals in Kenya. These activities highlight Kenya's leadership in leveraging mobile technology for continued professional development.