Open online courses for strengthening laboratory-based detection of antimicrobial resistance in Pakistan

Document Type



Pathology and Laboratory Medicine


Introduction: Quality-assured antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) depends upon the knowledge and skills of laboratory staff. In many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), including Pakistan, such types of knowledge and skills are limited. Therefore, the objective of this study was to use openaccess online courses to improve the knowledge of laboratory staff involved in the detection and reporting of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Methodology: Seven online modules comprising 22 courses aimed at strengthening the laboratory detection of Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) were developed. The courses were uploaded onto the website www.parn.org.pk. Participants had an option of selecting courses of their interest. Online registration and completion of a pre-course assessment (pre-test) were essential for enrolment. However, participation in post-course assessment (post-test) was optional. The number of registered participants and the proportion of participants who completed each course were computed. A paired t-test was used to assess the increase between mean pre- and post-test scores. The association between the participants working in public vs. private laboratories and course completion rates were determined using the chi-square test.
Results: A total of 227 participants from Pakistan (March 2018 to June 2020) were registered. The largest number of registered participants and the highest completion rate were noted for AST and biosafety courses, while quality-related courses attracted a lower interest. A comparison of pre- and post-test performance using the paired mean score for the individual courses showed a statistically significant (the value of p < 0.05) improvement in 13/20 assessed courses. A higher course completion rate was observed in participants from public vs. private sector laboratories (56.8 vs. 30.8%, the value of p = 0.005).
Conclusions: Our study suggests a promising potential for open online courses (OOCs) toward addressing knowledge gaps in laboratory practice in resource limited settings.


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Frontiers in public health