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In 2000 the CNS partnered with the Universidad Politécnica of Managua to introduce distance education in nursing in Nicaragua. The program was designed to enable in-service professional nurses to take courses to become baccalaureate-prepared. The program was so successful that our education partner in Nicaragua expanded its distance education programming to include other levels of nursing.

In 2002, the CNS implemented a Canadian International Development Agency-financed project in Nicaragua and Guatemala to educate a new generation of front-line community nurses to work in rural and remote regions of each country. In Nicaragua, approximately 550 men and women from remote areas of the country received education and training in nursing. These new and upgraded front-line workers have saved lives, attended child births, trained new mothers, and monitored the growth and development of newborn and young children.

The project has directly contributed to improved access to primary health care nursing services for more than 373,577 people in more than 494 rural and remote communities in the departments of Madriz, Nueva Segovia, Estelí, and the RAAS (Región Autónoma Atlántico Sur). In Nicaragua, approximately 51.3% of the population are female and approximately 37.5% are children under the age of 15. Given that women and children generally tend to access health care services when needed and available, it is estimated that more than 119,778 women and 140,090 children (boys and girls) were positively impacted by this project and now have improved access to primary health care nursing services.

This project was based on the belief that nursing personnel are able to deliver quality primary health care services in a cost-effective and equitable manner across a continuum of care while extending coverage to hard to reach populations in rural and remote areas.

The real challenge to extending primary health care coverage to rural areas was ensuring that, once trained, these primary health care workers would stay in their communities and provide health care services where they were needed most.

This project was based on the belief that the education and training could be given quickly and effectively by utilizing distance learning methodology. The primary health care nurses were taught in their own communities or nearby districts. Following graduation, the graduates work and provide health care services in their rural home communities.

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Travelling in the RAAS (Región Autónoma Atlántico Sur), Nicaragua.

Health Education Workshop, Guatemala.