Even as the world is trying to develop the Covid-19 vaccine, Indian educational institutes are starting to introduce the coronavirus pandemic as a subject to its students. These courses are not limited to medical students and the pandemic has made its way to the curriculum of engineering, management and policy-making as well.
The first to join the league is Lucknow University, which will launch a new postgraduate diploma course on epidemiology and biostatistics. The varsity is also making the subject a part of its current master’s level course in public health. The courses will be taught at Dr Giri Lal Gupta Institute of Public Health and Public Affairs, Lucknow University. While the master’s course has a total of 55 seats, the number of seats to be available in the PG diploma course is yet to be declared. The institute has put forth a demand for three contractual teachers for this programme. It is expected to be introduced in the upcoming academic session.
Shalie Malik, coordinator of the institute and associate professor said, “The course of the postgraduate diploma in epidemiology and biostatistics is at the designing stage. We have planned to introduce a unit devoted to COVID-19 in the curriculum. Further, in biostatistical analysis subject, one unit will have a detailed case study about COVID-19. In the basic epidemiology paper, a unit on ‘investigating an outbreak’ will also have a reference to the coronavirus outbreak.”
The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati has also added coronavirus as part of two of its courses at the BTech level under the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering. Sachin Kumar, associate professor, Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering, IIT-Guwahati told indianexpress.com, “We are teaching the Molecular Virology of the Coronaviruses as an elective course for the BTech final year, Mtech and PhD students. It is part of a routine virology course and we will keep teaching it to the students. Now as a course instructor, one has to include SARS-CoV2 in the existing curriculum.”
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has launched a course on coronavirus management. FICCI claims the course was introduced on the behest of NITI Aayog. The course focuses on the basic introduction to COVID-19, infection prevention and control and clinical management of positive cases. It has over 15 aspects of preparedness against the outbreak which includes guidelines from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, WHO, best practices from Indian hospitals.
Some of the courses include – ‘dead body management for COVID-19 patients’, ‘facility setup to deal with COVID-19 outbreak’, ‘ambulance transfer of COVID-19 patients’, ‘introduction to ventilator use in an ICU’, ‘training of healthcare workers in laboratories’, ‘coronavirus: awareness’.
The coronavirus courses are available online at Medvarsity. While these are open to all, no fee is charged from healthcare workers who opt for these training programmes. As of now, these are available in the English language but efforts are being made to make it available in regional languages as well, the industry body informed.
FICCI Arise, the education wing of the body, is also conducting a series of online classes including ‘Teaching for the New Normal’, Planning for Classroom Teaching (Session: Creating lesson plans for remote learning)’ among others to help educators adapt to the change.
TCS-iON, an educational wing of TCS has launched a course CoronaWarriors. TCS claims it has been created with inputs from Harvard University. The six-hour course is free of cost and a self-paced, self-certification programme. It also offers profession-specific measures for nurses, pharmacists, receptionists, laundry, radiology, technicians, and biomedical waste management staff. The course has been designed and curated by medical experts of TCS Lifesciences unit, along with inputs from subject matter experts who are faculty members at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, claims TCSiON.
In-depth training courses have also been launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for healthcare professionals from ASHA and Anganwadi workers to doctors and nursing students. These include guidelines, webinars with experts, YouTube videos and best practices being followed in several aspects of handling the coronavirus pandemic.
EdX, which already has a series of courses under the ‘epidemics’ section from smallpox to Ebola, is now also offering courses on the latest pandemic coronavirus. The online courses include a self-paced course by Harvard, ‘Mechanical ventilation for COVID-19’. It is for certified professionals to know the principles and physiology of mechanical ventilation, troubleshooting ventilators, and prepares them for special circumstances including acute respiratory distress syndrome and obstructive lung disease.
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The University of Hong Kong through edX provides a series of courses ‘Epidemics’ which also includes history, understanding epidemic their outbreak and bug hunting as well as a panel discussion with world-leading experts in epidemics by the end of the course.
Another interesting and relevant course is ‘Viruses and How to Beat Them’ by Tel Aviv University – an Israel-based public university. It is for anyone who wishes to know about how viruses work, immunity system operations, and pros and cons of vaccines.