Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases have been spiraling in Suriname over the last couple of months resulting in a complete lockdown at the end of May when infections kept on increasing and the IC units reached their maximum capacity. Luckily, the number of infections is now gradually declining, but the lockdown remains.
In these circumstances, it is also challenging to continue with the scheduled training activities for the Health[e]Families project, since no workshops or gatherings are allowed and everyone is advised to limit social interaction. Nevertheless, challenges have always kept us on our toes, and this offered a perfect opportunity to pilot a fully virtual programme. Normally, Health[e]Foundation and project partner Stichting Perisur would offer blended-learning in the form of physical workshops combined with e-learning in Suriname, but drastic measures ask for drastic changes.
Hence, we enrolled a group of maternal and neonatal healthcare professionals and a group of community health workers for the virtual Female&Family[e]Education and Health[e]Community kick-off trainings, and conducted virtual follow up trainings for participants who were initiated earlier this year in the limited-size workshops before the lockdown. On multiple Saturday mornings in June and July a series of sessions via Zoom were conducted demonstrating new participants how to work with the e-learning platform, providing lectures as well as “handing” out certificates to graduating participants.
The virtual sessions were well attended by ~25-30 participants in each session, and proved to be more interactive than expected with ample time to engage with all participants. A big success!
Now it is up to the new participants to study their e-modules in the coming months. Some of them already managed to complete all the modules and are rolling out the LUCY app to pregnant Surinamese women and mothers of newborns. Hopefully we will be able to close the training period with a real-life workshop, otherwise we will meet again virtually in September.