KAMPALA - Over time, the government, and other stakeholders have strived to improve health care services more so, at the grassroots.
However, Justus Cherop Kiplangat the president of the Uganda Nurses Association (UNA) says there are still a lot of nutrition challenges in the villages.
"This calls for modern techniques of training of the health care providers including nurses and midwives who do over 50% of the hospital work," he said.
It's against this background that the Early Life Nutrition academy (ELN) was launched recently thanks to Danone, a company that deals in baby nutrition in partnership with Amref International University.
So far, 50 healthcare professionals have already enrolled at no cost.
These include; nurses, midwives, and nutritionists.
One such, Sarah Nakitto, a midwife with Uganda Private Midwives Association (UPMA) says there is a lack of adequate knowledge on nutrition among many health care providers, mostly those in remote areas given the changing trends and innovations in the field of health.
"E-learning will help us a lot in improving our knowledge and service delivery," she opines.
Kiplangat adds that e-learning is the way to go in this Dot. Com era.
"It is convenient since it is programmed according to the learner's schedule. It also helps one to have access to a wide range of online resources and save transport as well," he elaborates.
In the same way, Brian Ssekasamba, Danone healthcare nutrition manager for Uganda and Rwanda says, many healthcare providers practice for many years without doing any refresher course to keep up with new technology, research or innovations in the areas of maternal, newborn and child health.
"We decided to support them by providing education at their convenience," he says.
This is a pilot project that recently succeeded in the neighboring Kenya where a lot of information was shared and great improvement in service delivery was registered.
Meanwhile, the professionals will also be trained in modern ways of taking care of children from birth to infancy.
"The first 1000 days are very critical in the development of children," Ssekasamba says.
For example, if the mother doesn't breastfeed her baby exclusively, it means that that baby will miss out on the essential nutrients and this will definitely affect their growth and development.
"We will ensure the health care providers cascade the information to the parents of the country. This will greatly reduce infant mortality," he adds.
To enroll, Ssekasamba notes that one has to subscribe to the health care professional bodies including UNA, UPMA, the Nutrition Society of Uganda (NSU) and Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union. The course is free of charge and it takes six weeks.
"So long as you are a member of those organizations, your name is sent to AMREF University for enrollment and after, the modules are sent," he explains.
All you need is a smartphone or computer and internet.
However, one needs to take personal responsibility and commitment to graduate.
Growing in one's career involves hard work, determination and more importantly, professional development in a bid to add on to one's credentials.
Dr. Gaston Tumuhimbise, NSU secretary general says there are many things many health care providers do not know yet about early life nutrition.
"We believe, Danone which has gathered a lot of knowledge in this area will help enhance the skills of the nutritionists," he says adding that these will, in turn, advise mothers and caregivers on the best way to look after children for adequate growth.