This month, ICAP launched the Option B+ online training for nurses and midwives. A new approach recommended by WHO to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT), Option B+ includes initiating lifelong antiretroviral treatment (ART) for pregnant and breastfeeding women infected with HIV.

The introductory course to Option B+ was developed to increase nurses’ and midwives’ access to up-to-date information on HIV care and treatment guidelines for women and children. This online training advances ICAP’s work with ministries of health across sub-Saharan Africa, preparing nurses and midwives for clinical practice, increasing the number of women living with HIV who are on lifesaving treatment, and preventing new infections in children.

ICAP developed this online training to reach nursing and midwifery students and practicing professionals in low resource areas so that students without current textbooks or access to consistent transportation can receive crucial skills training. The curriculum is competency-based and includes lessons on HIV counseling and testing, ART for pregnant women, as well as care for HIV-exposed infants. The training uses narratives, case studies, and a number of interactive activities for applying information to real world scenarios. It also includes online evaluation tools so that students and administering faculty can track progress and review test scores.

“E-learning is a great way for faculty in nursing schools to stay current on clinical practice guidelines so that students receive cutting-edge education,” said Janel Smith, nursing education officer at ICAP. “It also has the potential to make continuing education more convenient and to reduce costs and absenteeism associated with in-service training workshops, so that nurses can remain at the frontlines providing care.”

ICAP piloted the training with nursing faculty in Malawi at Mzuzu University and Malawi College of Health Sciences in September. “For most of the lecturers it was their first time using e-learning and the nursing leadership was skeptical,” said Gertrude Chipungu, country director of ICAP Malawi. “The Option B+ training will give them a chance to actually experience e-learning and help nursing leaders to integrate e-learning into nursing and midwifery education.”

ICAP will pioneer e-learning using the Option B+ online training with students in 10 nursing schools in Malawi, Zambia, and Lesotho this year through the Nursing Education Partnership Initiative. ICAP will also promote the module for continuing education among practicing nurses and midwives in sub-Saharan Africa through the East, Central, and Southern Africa Colleges of Nursing (ECSACON) Continuing Professional Development Library.

The Option B+ online training is the newest educational tool developed by ICAP to improve education and training for nurses and midwives. Through NEPI, ICAPcontinues to create innovative learning strategies to increase the number of highly-skilled nurses and midwives and retain them in professional service through continuing professional development. Since 2009, ICAP has supported the development of pre-service education in 19 nursing schools across five African countries, producing more than 5,000 well-trained, clinically-competent graduates.

The Option B+ online training is free and available at nepinetwork.org.

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