Training Medical Technologists in the Caribbean - a Cross-institutional Model for Collaboration in Distance Education

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF5 Sub-theme: Health // The Caribbean region is arguably the most geographically complex and culturally diverse in the world. With national literacy rates ranging from 48% to over 84% and poverty levels from 0% to about 76%, the Caribbean presents many conflicting realities. // Caribbean nations share two realities - a below average enrollment in tertiary education and a growing dependence on tourism. Tourism is now the mainstay of Caribbean economic development. Sustaining a globally competitive tourism market has become an immediate goal for the Caribbean and maintaining the appropriate public health environment is high on the list of Government priorities. Countries today run the risk of global isolation at a moment’s notice if disease outbreaks or other public health issues arise. This could severely impact unemployment, poverty rates and social stability. Ensuring that medical laboratories provide reliable information has thus become critical to the regional economic drive. // The Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) referred to hereafter as the Centre, is the premier public health centre in the Caribbean, established by Caribbean Governments to be a watchdog for maintenance of the health and wellbeing of Caribbean populations. For over 30 years, The Centre has assisted its 21 member governments to deliver laboratory services and to manage the control and prevention of public health diseases. // A 4-year project entitled “Strengthening of Medical Laboratory Services in the Caribbean, implemented by the Centre from 2002-2007 and funded by the European Union, sought to address the deficiencies detected by the Centre in medical laboratory operations in the region. Evaluations of laboratory services identified the lack of preparedness of the medical laboratory workforce to implement standards. Knowledge and skills gaps contributed to the frequent occurrence of laboratory error. Facilitating development of a well trained laboratory workforce in 23 countries was a major project focus. // This paper describes the first attempt in the Caribbean to develop a collaborative crossinstitutional model for joint development and delivery of distance training for medical technologists. It describes the global and regional context in which this collaboration was initiated, briefly describing institutional environments and the process used to forge partnerships and define interventionist strategies for expanding distance training. // Paper ID 623

Caribbean countries
Caribbean and Americas