Overcoming frontiers and expanding its international reach, the Fiocruz Virtual Campus, in a first-time agreement with the National Institute of Health Mozambique, will begin holding qualification courses for the African institution offered in the remote modality. The initiative is developed within the Coopbrass Project - Health Research and Education Network: South-South Cooperation between Fiocruz and Mozambique Institutions - and intends to expand and improve professional capacitation and qualification, increasing the scale of education in critical health fields of national interest and to strengthen the expansion strategies for the Stricto Sensu post-graduation.
During the second half of November, the coordinator and the assistant coordinator of the Fiocruz Virtual Campus, Ana Furniel and Rosane Mendes, were on an international mission to the headquarters of the National Institute of Health of Mozambique (INS) for meetings with local administrators. Among the activities were presentation and capacitation workshops on educational technologies for health, better practices, and remote learning strategies.
The schedule also included meetings to define a work plan for the next two years, such as training local professionals for setting up, adapting and using the tools and platforms, with support and follow-up during the period in which the actions will be implemented. The FVC representatives were in Mozambique between 18 and 29 November.
According to coordinator Ana Furniel, the INS already offers brief classroom courses. “In addition to the continental size of the country and to the fact that we are still going through a public health global situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which makes it harder for professionals to travel, offering online courses makes it possible to reach more students and also optimizes financial resources. As a consequence, we are able to ensure the wide reach of educational initiatives, even in the context of public calamities”, she explained.
From the INS side, the new agreement is under the responsibility of Rufino Gujamo, the Institute’s Director of Education and Communication in Health.
Early in 2023 the subjects of the first courses to be offered by the INS through the Fiocruz Virtual Campus platform. In addition, in the first semester workshops are expected to be held to support Mozambique professionals in the creation of a Virtual Learning Environment for the INS, for courses and disciplines with support for the development of the Educational Design. A new phase is expected to begin in 2024: the development and implantation of a Virtual Learning Environment at the INS, for prototypes and some courses in the new environment.
This is yet another cooperation initiative that has been going on for over a decade. Coopbrass includes two great Fiocruz fields of action that are relevant for Global South countries: Fighting infectious diseases, neglected diseases, and sanitary emergencies; and strengthening health systems with the goal of improving health conditions and reducing inequalities.
Based on recent experiences, the Vice-Presidency of Education, Information and Communication (VPEIC), responsible for leading Coopbrass at Fiocruz, believes that knowledge on the use of online learning strategies, incorporation of virtual learning environments, and the offer of hybrid (in-person/online) courses have proven to be essential in this scenario of post-pandemic education. A great example is the partnership with the master's and doctorate's program in Health Sciences in Mozambique, with a class for the master’s degree in Health Systems and another in Public Health at the Faculty of Social Sciences, of Unilúrio, with which the FVC has already carried out some activities.
In 2021, students of the Master's Degree in Public Health, from the Faculty of Social Sciences, University Lúrio (Unilúrio), attended the course on Scientific Research Methodology - already offered in a transversal fashion for different Fiocruz courses. The lessons were given by professors of the Aggeu Magalhães Institute (Fiocruz Pernambuco). This was the first time Fiocruz offered a transversal discipline for a university from abroad.
More recently, VPEIC members were also on a mission in Mozambique, in April this year, to address the strengthening of this cooperation network between the institutions. For the upcoming year, it is expected to create new master’s and doctorate classes in Health Systems Management through a consortium of post-graduation programs of different Fiocruz units; to offer new transversal disciplines for the courses; and the providing of new training courses for the students, by means of the Fiocruz Virtual Campus, for the setting up and use of tools and the Virtual Learning Environment.