The 1000+OBGYN Project’s Old School Solution to Teaching in Sub-Saharan Africa

The University of Michigan’s 1000+OBGYN Program was born out of a meeting held by U of M’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology titled “Building Academic Partnerships to train 1000+ OBGYNs in sub-Saharan Africa.”

The meeting—which was funded by the Gates and Flora Family Foundations—allowed participants that included academics, practitioners, and representatives from Ministries of Health, and Ministries of Education, to lay out a game plan to reduce maternal and neonatal morbidity, mortality, and obstetric fistula in sub-Saharan Africa. At the start, the plan for the 1000+ OBGYN program included:

  • Developing country-specific plans to improve OBGYN training
  • Creating a Consortium of African Academic OBGYNs
  • Creating a Consortium of North American/European OBGYN Departments
  • Creating a consortium of organizations that support training, certification, research and service in the OBGYN field

Shortly after the program plan was laid out, a problem was detected. U of M’s Open.Michigan Initiative partnered with the Global Library of Women’s Medicine (GLOWM) to make learning materials available to 1000+ OBGYN program participants. But although a ton of training materials were easily accessible (and free) via the internet, the reliability of the Internet in sub-Saharan Africa was sketchy at best and the cost for access was often too high.

The University of Michigan came up with a simple solution to the technological problem—let them read books. The costs of textbooks and training materials for any student, much less a medical student in low-income countries, is often prohibitive.

U of M received a grant from the World Bank to help offset the costs of building this new collection of learning and teaching materials. The university’s OBGYN department has partnered up with its Department of Learning Health Sciences and the Open.Michigan Initiative to develop four new collections of materials specifically geared toward graduate education of OBGYNs in sub-Saharan Africa.

The new collections cover a wide range of subjects and are available to project students and teachers. The information will be made available both online and offline. Additionally, GLOWM is working with the 1000+OBGYN project to combine both of their collections of materials (which includes the Global Library’s entire collection) and compress that information into USB drives. Funding for this joint effort is being provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The USB drives are distributed to sub-Saharan African countries through the GLOWM’s Ambassador program.

Related: Gates Foundation: Grants for Global Health