Reuters

LONDON

Millions more students worldwide could train as doctors and nurses using electronic learning, which is just as effective as traditional medical training, a review commissioned by the World Health Organization has found. Researchers at Imperial College London who conducted the review said on Monday that wider use of e-learning might help make up for a global shortfall of 7.2 million health workers identified in a recent WHO report. Josip Car said that the use of electronic media and devices in education - already used by many universities and workplaces to allow ‘distance learning‘ to support campus- or office-based teaching - could enable greater access to education.

, especially in poorer countries where the need for health professionals is greatest.

He said the barriers were mostly in access to computers and Internet connections. Car’s team carried out a systematic review of 108 existing studies to assess the effectiveness of e-learning for undergraduate health professional education. They also conducted separate analyses looking at online learning, requiring an internet connection, and offline learning, delivered using CD-ROMs or USB sticks, for example. They found that students gain knowledge and skills through online and offline eLearning as well as or better than they do through traditional teaching.