The Open University

Health Education and Training in Africa (HEAT)

The Open University’s Health Education and Training (HEAT) programme aims to address the critical shortage of trained health workers in Sub-Saharan Africa. In partnership with local Governments, health organisations and education institutions we will develop a comprehensive bank of learning materials that can be freely accessed by health workers in their local communities. By harnessing leading-edge technology and combining the OU’s expertise in distance learning with our partners’ knowledge of local priorities, we will develop a solution that is locally relevant yet can be delivered at scale to meet the urgent and widespread need for improved healthcare services in the region.

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Registered Charity in England and Wales (SC038302)




  • Health/WellbeingHealth/Wellbeing
  • Poverty Alleviation/ReliefPoverty Alleviation/Relief


  • Children (3-18)Children (3-18)
  • Older PeopleOlder People
  • Women & GirlsWomen & Girls
  • Young People (18-30)Young People (18-30)
  • OtherOther



Africa carries 25 per cent of the world’s disease burden, yet has only 3 per cent of the world’s health workers and 1 per cent of the world’s economic resources to meet that challenge. One in six children in Africa dies before reaching their fifth birthday, two-thirds of whom could be saved by simple treatment such as rehydration, or preventative measures such as basic hygiene and careful disposal of waste. However, in multiple countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, basic health provision at grassroots level in lacking. This is mainly due to a lack of consistency in terms of breadth, depth and quality of health workers’ training, leaving them poorly equipped to deliver effective healthcare and often unsupported and isolated in their work. HEAT will ultimately deliver practical, impactful, knowledge directly to community health workers across sub-Saharan Africa, covering the core areas that have been repeatedly identified as needing to be urgently addressed such as HIV/AIDS, communications and counseling, nutrition, malaria and sexual health. HEAT is based on the learning gained through the Open University’s experience of developing an initiative that is currently transforming education for primary teachers in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2008, materials that were produced in partnership between the OU and educators in Africa are being accessed by nearly 500,000 primary teachers across nine African countries. Starting in Ethiopia, HEAT’s intention is to reach similar vast numbers of health workers and to transform the way healthcare is delivered and health workers are supported in communities across Africa.