Growing inequity in eye health service delivery needs to be addressed through population based public health planning for accessible and affordable care but the public health eye care curriculum is missing from clinical training programmes around the world, particularly in low-and middle-income countries with limited resources, training institutions and faculty.
As a UK postgraduate health training institution, we focus on a specific public health for eye care curriculum, one of two programmes worldwide, with limited space (15-18 annually) and restricted application criteria. Recognising our privileged position, we obtained funding in 2014 to increase equity in access to this training. Through collaboration with eye care experts from around the world, we have produced several Open Access online courses directed (uniquely) at the whole eye health team and at educators across multiple health care contexts in low resource settings. Partners in 3 African countries have also worked to contextualise the courses in different ways.
Demographic data from the FutureLearn platform indicates that these courses have increased access to public health eye care training in low resource settings. ~5,800 people from 116 low-and middle-income countries have participated with ~80% reporting working in health or social care. Additional qualitative feedback from partners and alumni has painted a richer picture of how participation is influencing training and professional practice. For example, an Indian ophthalmologist is playing course videos in team training sessions and cataract surgeons in rural Kenya report applying their learning to increase surgical productivity and quality. However, our limited insight leaves us with many questions around equity of participation in the training as affected by e.g. gender, culture, language, economics, geography and other structural and personal factors (Hodgkinson-Williams & Arinto, 2017). We will explore these questions in our talk.
In response to these experiences, we have developed our view of equity as applying across the building blocks of the health care system (Chang 2002). In which ways can opening up exchanges of knowledge and practice cascade learning across traditional training silos to increase equity in eye health services in an eye health system? And, how can Open educational practices contribute to increase equity of participation in eye care training at the local level?
To begin to explore these issues we plan to invite educators and institutions to participate in an international network, initially to:
• Develop an evidence base of eye health educators’ experiences and views of Open education and our courses
• Promote opportunities for co-production and decision-making input in our programme
• Build knowledge around Open educational practices to promote equitable eye health training and services across multiple contexts.
Early responses from educators have been positive and will present outputs from discussions in our talk.
Audience participation: we will use Q&A and small group work to share and learn from the audience’s experiences and understandings of equity in open education and gain ideas to increase equity in our programme.
Chang, W.-C. (2002). The meaning and goals of equity in health. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 56(7), 488–91. Available at: http://doi.org/10.1136/JECH.56.7.488 [Accessed 30/11/2018]
Hodgkinson-Williams, C. & Arinto, P. B. (2017). Adoption and impact of OER in the Global South. Cape Town & Ottawa: African Minds, International Development Research Centre & Research on Open Educational Resources. Available at: https://zenodo.org/record/1005330#.XAJiSOj7RPZ [Accessed 30/11/2018]
Looking forward to chairing this session