The beauty of open access: the ever-growing reach of CHEPSAA’s master’s-level courses
CHEPSAA’s online open access modules – Introduction to Complex Health Systems (ICHS) and Introduction to Health Policy and Systems Research (IHPSR) – now have a presence in 61 countries across the world.
This milestone was achieved in the period March - September 2017, thanks to downloads from Yemen, Japan, France, Ivory Coast, Spain, Somalia and Malaysia; 7 countries from where the materials had not been accessed before.
Over the same period, 35 new students, educators and researchers accessed the materials. Eight of these were from the countries mentioned above, while the remaining 27 came from countries where the CHEPSAA courses already had a presence. The latter includes Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Australia, Colombia, the United States, Switzerland, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
ICHS was piloted in 2014 and both courses were officially launched in January 2015, as the initial funding for CHEPSAA came to an end. In March 2017, we created a map to show the places in the world from where students, researchers and educators have downloaded the course materials. We have now, for the first time, updated the map to reflect the new users and countries.
The reach and impact of CHEPSAA’s courses are not limited to website downloads. A key face-to-face dissemination channel is the annual Winter School of the School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa.
In addition to ICHS and IHPSR, CHEPSAA’s courses include a third open access module entitled Understanding and Analysing Health Policy (UAHP). While ICHS and IHPSR were developed between 2011 and 2015, as part of the CHEPSAA project, UAHP was developed in 2007, but was incorporated into the CHEPSAA portfolio when the course developers became involved in CHEPSAA.
UAHP has been run as part of the Winter School since 2008, while ICHS was introduced in 2014 and IHPSR added in 2016. In 2016, the Collaboration for Health Systems Analysis and Innovation (CHESAI), CHEPSAA’s sister network, offered grants to support the course attendance of health system researchers, academics and managers.
Since 2008, 386 students have attended these courses from 22 countries. Two-thirds of the students were South African, with the remainder coming from the rest of Africa and to a limited extent Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Thailand and Vietnam). More than half the students were women.
The infographics below show, for each of these courses, the years in which they were run, the number of students reached, and the students’ gender split and countries of origin (Click here to read or here to watch some of the feedback received from students over the years).
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”
The beauty of the open access model is that the dissemination and growth of the courses have not solely been in the hands of CHEPSAA and its close partners such as CHESAI. In fact, numerous others have taken up the baton by running the courses or parts of the courses in their own contexts. Over the years, notable examples have included courses in Singapore, China, Bangladesh, Kenya and the Philippines.
We remain very interested to hear from anyone who has implemented the courses and to learn more about how they have adapted the material to their own contexts and student audiences. As with this example, such adaptations can then again be shared to improve the courses, support other educators around the world, and strengthen the field of health policy and systems research.
Ermin Erasmus, CHEPSAA coordinator, and Woldekidan Amde, researcher, School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape