5 Free Online Courses Every Global Health Junkie should Take

By Anna Dirksen, PSI Consultant

August is winding down and people in many parts of the world are gearing up for back-to-school season. For those interested in developing a basic understanding of global health or for professionals interested in brushing up on their skills this fall, there are a wide variety of online courses available for free. USAID funds the Global Health eLearning Center, the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health offers many of its courses online, and even the WHO hosts a site linking to useful e-learning resources on health services delivery.

But for the real global health junkie looking for the latest learnings on how to disrupt global health and truly change the way we work, we’ve got the list for you. Here are our top five picks for the latest free online courses that can help you learn how to maximize resources, increase effectiveness and improve overall well-being by making smart evidence-based decisions in global health.

1. mHealth Basics: Introduction to Mobile Technology for Health: mHealth is the use of mobile phone and wireless technologies to improve health outcomes across the world. According to the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies, by the end of this year there will be more than 7 billion mobile cellular subscriptions, corresponding to a penetration rate of 97% worldwide. As widespread use of mobile phones becomes the norm, mHealth practices are rapidly increasing to great effect. This three-hour course and related mHealth toolkit provides an introduction to this emerging field and an overview of best practices for mHealth solution development: https://www.globalhealthlearning.org/course/mhealth-basics-introduction-mobile-technology-health

2. Social Franchising for Health: Just like with the franchising of restaurants or retail outlets, social franchising uses commercial franchising strategies to improve health across the developing world. Healthcare providers are given the opportunity to join a franchised or accredited network and receive specific health care trainings and tools. In return, they promise to deliver high-quality specified services to their clients at a price that is affordable to everyone across the economic spectrum. This two-hour course — developed by PSI and Marie Stopes International with support from USAID — will help you learn how social franchising delivers affordable, equitable and high quality health services, how the success of social franchising is measured, and all about emerging best practices in the field: http://www.globalhealthlearning.org/course/social-franchising-health

3. Market Development: Market Development — or Total Market Approach as it’s often called — is an approach to delivering global health where taking into account the dynamics across market sectors, including that of government, private and NGOs, and the value chain to improve project designs and implementation. The goal is to make markets work to fulfill the supply of those in need of products and services in a way they can afford. Greater efficiency in the market increases sustainability by better targeting public and social sector subsidies and decreasing “crowding out” of the commercial sector. Using practical examples, this two-hour course teaches how to use a market-based approach to maximize resource use, increase access to priority health goods, and improve sustainability. Although it focuses exclusively on health products, the concepts taught can also be applied to health information and service delivery: https://www.globalhealthlearning.org/course/total-market-approach

4. Water Sanitation Needs in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies: With the seeming increase in catastrophic events like the earthquake in Nepal and flash floodings from Cyclone Komen in Myanmar, tactics to address the complex global health challenges related to humanitarian emergencies are becoming ever more important. This seven-part course gives global health professionals the opportunity to take a deep dive into the major water and sanitation issues that often confront communities in crisis, such as typhoid, cholera, and dysentery. Beyond its historical overview of the topic, the course also provides guidance on the types of water and sanitation facilities and equipment suited to the various emergencies that may arise, as well as methodologies for assessing and quantifying water and sanitation needs: http://ocw.jhsph.edu/index.cfm/go/viewCourse/course/watersanitation/coursePage/index/

5. Population, Health and Environment Basics: As the United Nations prepares to launch its post-2015 development agenda this September, the global community is re-aligning its thinking around the ways in which population growth and sustainable development intersect. Against this backdrop, global health junkies will appreciate this oldie but goodie from 2007: a two-hour course on community-based development programs that link interventions in population, health and the environment. Programs like this have demonstrated promising results in places where demographic trends — like population growth and migration — are putting pressure on the environment and degrading natural resources to a point where the health and livelihoods of local communities are affected: https://www.globalhealthlearning.org/course/population-health-and-environment-basics

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