Innovation in learning to improve quality of care in maternal and newborn health

Blog 21 Apr 2023
Face-to-face learning incorporating group work and ensuring understanding and practical application of course content

As we mark World Creativity and Innovation Day on 21st April, we also embrace innovation in learning, to improve quality of care for women and newborns in low and middle-income countries. Every day, globally, approximately 800 women and 7,000 newborn babies lose their lives during childbirth. Of these most deaths are due to uncontrolled bleeding, high blood pressure related to pregnancy, infection and abortion. Many of these deaths are preventable with good quality of care. The new blended learning, quality improvement (QI) package, developed by a team from the Emergency Obstetric & Quality of Care Unit at LSTM, combines teaching on improving quality of care provided in healthcare facilities, with accessible, cost-effective learning methods.

Quality improvement methods

The course teaches techniques such as situational analysis, root cause analysis, and standards-based audit. These help healthcare providers to identify ‘problems’ within their facilities and characterise the cause of the problems and potential, research-based remedial interventions. Standards-based audits are then put in place to evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions and to monitor ongoing improvements in care quality.

Blended learning

The use of a blended learning approach has been shown to be as good as traditional teaching methods with the benefit of greater flexibility, and potentially more cost effective and sustainable. In this instance the QI course has been divided into three parts:

  • Self-directed learning, including pre-recorded lectures, reflective activities, and question and answer activities
  • Facilitated online learning in small groups
  • Face-to-face learning incorporating group work and ensuring understanding and practical application of course content.

Benefits of the blended learning approach include flexibility for busy healthcare providers to carry out the self-directed learning at a time to suit them. The online group learning sessions are designed to be short (2 hours) and as with the self-directed learning, allow healthcare providers to take part in the course without having to leave their healthcare facility. The one-day, face-to-face taught session reinforces the learning from earlier parts of the course, through practical application of the content to learners own working environment.


The new blended learning QI course provides a flexible learning experience for healthcare providers in low-resource settings with the aim of improving the care quality provided to women and newborns during childbirth. Formal cost-effectiveness assessments are ongoing, but it is expected that this course will provide an efficient and acceptable learning approach in settings where it is much needed. The self-directed component of the course is hosted on the World Continuing Education Alliance platform which is accessible to health workers affiliated with medical and midwifery councils in 45 countries and 63 professional medical and nursing/midwifery associations in Africa.

 This is the third package transferred from traditional to a blended learning approach, after the successful launch of the advanced obstetrics, and antenatal/postnatal care courses in 2022.