New e-learning course designed to scale up IYCF knowledge and skills for health workers now available

A new free e-learning course is now available for health workers involved in infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices, Alive & Thrive announced today.

Leading experts in infant and young child feeding practices guided the development of the Invest in Child Nutrition e-learning course.

Investing in Child Nutrition is a free, publicly available online course designed to provide guidance, skills, and practical information to health workers to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding and complementary feeding. The course is available in French and English at www.iycfhub.org.

“We know from experience that while face-to-face learning for health workers is valuable, there is an enormous gap in the proportion who actually receive face-to-face learning,” said Roger Mathisen, Regional Director of Alive & Thrive’s Southeast Asia program. “By using online communication channels, this course can reach more health professionals in a consistent and user-friendly way that gives them the tools to save lives and contribute to improving child nutrition.”

Working with UNICEF and a global network of experts in IYCF, Alive & Thrive developed the course based on the World Health Organization (WHO) Combined Course on Growth Assessment and IYCF counselling (2012) and supplemental content from WHO, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Global Health Media Project, and the Raising Children Network (Australia).

The course was developed with the support of UNICEF and includes advice from experts on infant and young child nutrition from all over the world. The steering committee members include:

  • France Begin, Senior Advisor, Early Childhood Nutrition, UNICEF
  • Dr Aashima Garg, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF
  • Dr Michele Griswold, PhD, MPH, RN, International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Past President of the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA)
  • Dr Rukhsana Haider, MBBS, MSc, International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), PhD, Founder and Chair, Training & Assistance for Health & Nutrition Foundation (TAHN) (Chair)
  • Dr Phuong Huynh, Phuong Huynh, MD, MSc, PhD, Deputy Head, Food and Nutrition Training Center, National Institute of Nutrition Viet Nam
  • Terrie Wefwafwa HSC, Nutritionist and CEO, Karibuni-Kenya and past Head, Division of Nutrition Ministry of Health, Kenya

Each of the nine modules starts with an introductory video featuring insights from experts and highlighting learning goals. The interactive content includes photos, graphics, videos, and animations, as well as audio clips to engage the user. Activities and knowledge checks aid learning and promote user interactivity with the course content, while links to additional resources and references promote further learning.

The modules are:

  • Course overview
  • Counseling skills
  • Breastfeeding – basic
  • Breastfeeding – advanced
  • Complementary feeding
  • Growth assessment
  • HIV and infant feeding
  • Policies and programmes
  • Supportive supervision
  • Additional information

The course’s development was driven by the significant positive impacts that occur when infant and young children feeding recommendations are practiced: Over 820,000 children’s lives could be saved each year if all children were breastfed according to international recommendations. UNICEF estimates that six per cent – or 600,000 – under-five deaths can be prevented by ensuring optimal complementary feeding.

For women to be successful in adapting and sustaining breastfeeding and other recommended infant and young child feeding practices, and for countries to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, support for IYCF is needed in homes, workplaces, health care settings, and communities. The new e-learning course brings access to training in IYCF counseling to more health workers.

The course was funded by Alive & Thrive, with technical assistance from UNICEF, and created by Manta Ray Media. The Alive & Thrive initiative, managed by FHI 360, is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Irish Aid, the Tanoto Foundation, and UNICEF.

Acknowledgement and special thanks are given to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, WHO, Global Health Media Project, Raising Children Network (Australia), and other global IYCF experts for their support in providing content, multimedia, and expert input to this course. Usability testing was conducted with the support of the Department of Health and Kalusugan ng Mag-Ina, Inc. (KMI) in the Philippines, and the National Institute of Nutrition, Viet Nam.