Document Type



School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa


Background: The standard face-to-face training for the integrated management of childhood illness (IMCI) continues to be plagued by concerns of low coverage of trainees, the prolonged absence of trainees from the health facility to attend training and the high cost of training. Consequently, the distance learning IMCI training model is increasingly being promoted to address some of these challenges in resource-limited settings. This paper examines participants’ accounts of the paper-based IMCI distance learning training programme in three district councils in Mbeya region, Tanzania.

Methods: A cross-sectional qualitative descriptive design was employed as part of an endline evaluation study of the management of possible serious bacterial infection in Busokelo, Kyela and Mbarali district councils of Mbeya Region in Tanzania. Key informant interviews were conducted with purposefully selected policymakers, partners, programme managers and healthcare workers, including benefciaries and training facilitators.

Results: About 60 key informant interviews were conducted, of which 53% of participants were healthcare workers, including nurses, clinicians and pharmacists, and 22% were healthcare administrators, including district medical ofcers, reproductive and child health coordinators and programme ofcers. The fndings indicate that the distance learning IMCI training model (DIMCI) was designed to address concerns about the standard IMCI model by enhancing efciency, increasing outputs and reducing training costs. DIMCI included a mix of brief face-to-face orientation sessions, several weeks of self-directed learning, group discussions and brief face-to-face review sessions with facilitators. The DIMCI course covered topics related to management of sick newborns, referral decisions and reporting with nurses and clinicians as the main benefciaries of the training. The problems with DIMCI included technological challenges related to limited access to proper learning technology (e.g., computers) and unfriendly learning materials. Personal challenges included work-study-family demands, and design and coordination challenges, including low fnancial incentives, which contributed to participants defaulting, and limited mentorship and follow-up due to limited funding and transport.

Conclusion: DIMCI was implemented successfully in rural Tanzania. It facilitated the training of many healthcare workers at low cost and resulted in improved knowledge, competence and confdence among healthcare workers in managing sick newborns. However, technological, personal, and design and coordination challenges continue to face learners in rural areas; these will need to be addressed to maximize the success of DIMCI.

Publication (Name of Journal)

BMC Health Services Research

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.