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Building professional capacity to improve child health in Palestine

3 August 2017

The partnership between the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and Al Quds Medical School provides a pathway for health care professionals to receive specialised training in child health.

Poor quality primary health care for infants and children

The Palestinian Ministry of Health has identified deficiencies in primary care for children in the West Bank. Health service managers and local and visiting tutors have highlighted areas for improvement in child health services including communication with parents, use of antibiotics, investigation of minor conditions, integration of preventive care with curative treatment, local follow-up of chronic illness, identification of developmental delay, and recognition of both emotional disorders and child neglect. Addressing these areas may result in better use of resources, better use of primary care clinics consequently avoiding overloading secondary care facilities.

Increasing teaching capacity and evaluating impact

This partnership addresses directly these priority issues in child health by providing courses on the delivery of appropriate child health services. These courses lead to a Masters in Child Health (MACH). The HPS grant is being used to build teaching capacity and evaluate impact with the expectation of handing over responsibility to the Palestinian partners to take over the programme and make it sustainable. In turn, the health system will be strengthened and better able to provide quality care to infants and children.

To build teaching capacity, the programme has delivered one-day monitoring and evaluation workshops and two-day ‘Educating the Educators’ workshops to train paediatricians and child health professionals in adult teaching and learning techniques. The two-day workshops are jointly delivered by UK and Palestinian tutors to support Al Quds Medical School to deliver and sustain the MACH. From these workshops, leaders have emerged from among the group of tutors who are willing to take the lead in implementation of the MACH programme and its evaluation. The success of this programme has been noticed, and possible collaborations with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) and Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) for satellite programmes in Lebanon, Gaza, West Bank and Jordan may be in store for the future.

Lessons learned for both teachers and students

Working in a conflict area has given members of the UK team more perspective, as one member explains:

We have developed an increased awareness of the direct and indirect impact of living under occupation and living with political violence on the health of a population and the effect on parenting and the provision of services by staff who themselves are living under stress. We have been able to incorporate these insights into our own teaching in the UK

The workshops also gave participants greater confidence in their own teaching capabilities as well as provided different approaches to teaching. One participant comments on the experience:

My personal experience showed that the EoE workshop gave me a lot of genuine ideas on how to modify my personal way of teaching with my students of the medical school and with the paediatric residents of Makassed