Comprehensive on-site medical and public health training for local medical practitioners in a refugee setting

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness








Health personnel; On-site training; Refugee camp; Training curriculum


Objectives: In refugee settings, local medical personnel manage a broad range of health problems but commonly lack proper skills and training, which contributes to inefficient use of resources. To fill that gap, we designed, implemented, and evaluated a curriculum for a comprehensive on-site training for medical providers. Methods: The comprehensive teaching curriculum provided ongoing on-site training for medical providers (4 physicians, 7 medical officers, 15 nurses and nurse aids, and 30 community health workers) in a sub-Saharan refugee camp. The curriculum included didactic sessions, inpatient and outpatient practice-based teaching, and case-based discussions, which included clinical topics, refugee public health, and organizational skills. The usefulness and efficacy of the training were evaluated through pretraining and posttraining tests, anonymous self-assessment surveys, focus group discussions, and direct clinical observation. Results: Physicians had a 50% (95% CI 17%-82%; range, 25%-75%) improvement in knowledge and skills. They rated the quality and usefulness of lectures 4.75 and practice-based teaching 5.0 on a 5-point scale (1=poor to 5=excellent). Evaluation of medical officers' knowledge revealed improvements in (1) overall test scores (52% [SD 8%] to 80% [SD 5%]; P <.0001); (2) pediatric infectious diseases (44% [SD 9%] to 79% [SD 7%]; P <.001); and (3) noninfectious diseases (57% [SD 16%] to 81% [SD 10%] P <.01). Main barriers to effective learning were lack of training prioritization, time constraints, and limited ancillary support. Conclusions: A long-term, ongoing training curriculum for medical providers initiated by aid agencies but integrated into horizontal peer-to-peer education is feasible and effective in refugee settings. Such programs need prioritizing, practice and system-based personnel training, and a comprehensive curriculum to improve clinical decision making.(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2013;7:82-88) Copyright © Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. 2013.