About Bettercare

Bettercare is a South African independent, registered Non-Profit and Public Benefit Organisation launched in 2016. Our aim is to create appropriate, cheap, on-site learning opportunities, without the need for formal tutors, to a wide range of healthcare workers with the goal of improving the quality of healthcare in even the most challenging circumstances.

Bettercare learning courses ensure that all healthcare professionals have access to high-quality, affordable and up-to-date training in every facility, regardless of its history, resources or geographical location. Additions and changes are informed by evidence-based literature and national protocols as well as ongoing feedback from healthcare workers, educators and participants. Learning material is based on new and better methods of diagnosing and treating patients and the latest developments in a wide range of healthcare topics.

Bettercare learning courses grew out of the work of the Perinatal Education Programme (PEP). PEP began in 1989 when a small team of paediatricians, obstetricians and nurses came together to develop a consensus document on best practice care for mothers and infants. The innovative PEP method of self-directed, decentralised learning has been tested in controlled studies and proven to improve knowledge and understanding, attitudes, clinical skills and patient care practices in health professionals. Over 100 000 participants have successfully completed PEP courses.

Currently there are 28 Bettercare courses developed together with experts in their clinical fields. In addition to the paper-based course books, Bettercare courses are also presented on an open-access website.

Why decentralised learning?

Continuing education for health professionals traditionally consists of courses and workshops run by formal trainers at large central hospitals. These courses are expensive, often far away from the health professionals’ families and places of work, and the content frequently fails to address the biggest healthcare challenges of poor, rural communities.

PEP developed the self-help, decentralised learning method in response to these problems and to address the needs of all professional healthcare workers, especially those in under-resourced regions. All Bettercare learning courses follow this basic, proven learning methodology.

A learning course is the curriculum and study material you need to run a course, all in one book. Whether you lead a study group or manage formal training, Bettercare learning courses make your job simpler and easier. We provide the learning material, you run the course. You can implement Bettercare learning courses in your institution right now. There is no need to wait for acceptance to a centralised training programme.

Each chapter of a Bettercare learning course contains the most relevant and up-to-date information health professionals rely on to provide excellent and appropriate care to their patients. Learning material is presented in a problem-solving question-and-answer format. Each chapter has a multiple-choice quiz consisting of 10 to 20 questions. Participants do the quiz before they study a chapter to identify gaps in their knowledge. Afterwards they repeat the quiz to gauge their learning at the end of each chapter. By marking their own quizzes when they complete a chapter, participants monitor their progress through the course.

Participants study one chapter at a time on their own and then meet colleagues in a study group to discuss what they have learned. The formation of study groups encourages co-operative learning where colleagues share their knowledge and understanding. While the role of a facilitator can be useful, a formal teacher is not needed.

Bettercare learning courses have helped thousands of nurses, midwives, doctors, community healthcare workers and students increase their knowledge and understanding, boost their confidence, and improve patient care.

Free Bettercare Online Learning Platform

The Bettercare Learning Platform is a free, open-source website that can be used on tablets, computers or smart phones. Using the very effective self-help study methodology, the material on the Learning Platform includes all the learning courses’ full content and the multiple-choice quizzes for each chapter.

Students using Bettercare books can benefit from video clips addressing diag­nosis and management which are attached to some of the chapters on the website. Currently there are about 32 000 visitors to the Bettercare website each month from many developing and developed countries.

You can access the learning platform here:

Learning programmes

Child and Adolescent Care for Community Health Workers

Child and Adolescent Care for Community Health Workers addresses the important topics of growth and nutrition, HIV and tuberculosis in children, and adolescent care. Community health workers are helped to screen for normal growth and promote a good diet. They also support good medication adherence. Common problems during adolescence are discussed. Community health workers bring care to the home and form a vital link between the community and local clinics.

COVID-19 Guide for Community Health Workers

It is essential that everyone learns about COVID-19 and how it is spread. Community health workers can use COVID-19 Guide for Community Health Workers to learn how to educate community members on COVID-19, diagnose, manage and prevent the spread of the virus and, importantly, protect themselves from COVID-19. Community health workers play an important role in slowing the spread of infections within their communities and reducing the stigma towards people who are ill with or have recovered from COVID-19.

Empathetic Care: A guide for community health workers

By providing care as community health workers, we show people they are not alone, and that we want them to be healthy and happy. Empathetic Care: A guide for community health workers offers insight into providing care with kindness, empathy and compassion. It includes information about empathic communication, self-care and using empathy and kindness to help others.

Immunisations: A guide for community health workers

Immunisations: A guide for community health workers introduces the principles and benefits of immunisation, commonly used vaccines in the immunisation schedule, storage of vaccines, and risks of immunisation. Community health workers play a major role in ensuring that all children are fully immunised.

Mental Health and Wellbeing: A guide for community health workers

Many people with mental health conditions can be helped within the community, using very simple treatments. Community health workers can use Mental Health and Wellbeing: A guide for community health workers to learn how to promote mental health, understand who is at risk, identify the signs and symptoms of common mental health conditions and help themselves and others work towards mental wellbeing.

Mother and Baby Care for Community Health Workers

Mother and Baby Care for Community Health Workers explains how community health workers can help care for mothers and their newborn babies. It includes information about exclusive breastfeeding and HIV in mothers and babies. As trusted on-the-ground support to community members, community health workers expand access to essential healthcare information as well as available treatment and prevention programmes.

Format of the courses


The learning objectives are clearly stated at the start of each chapter. They help the participant to identify and understand the important lessons to be learned.

Pre- and post-quizzes

There is a multiple-choice quiz of 10 to 20 questions for each chapter at the end of the book. Participants are encouraged to take a pre-quiz before starting each chapter, to benchmark their current knowledge, and a post-quiz after each chapter, to assess what they have learned. Participants are provided with the correct answers so that they can mark their quizzes when they have completed that chapter. The source of each question is given next to the correct answer so participants can reread those sections that have not been mastered. Self-assessment allows participants to monitor their own progress through the course.

Question-and-answer format

Theoretical knowledge is presented in a question-and-answer format, which encourages the learner to actively participate in the learning process. In this way, the participant is led step by step through the definitions, causes, diagnosis, prevention, dangers and management of a particular problem.

Participants should cover the answer for a few minutes with a piece of paper while thinking about the correct reply to each question. This method helps learning.

Each question is identified with the number of the chapter, followed by the number of the question, e.g. 5-23.

Case studies

Each chapter closes with a few case studies which encourage the participant to consolidate and apply what was learned in the chapter. These studies give the participant an opportunity to see the problem as it usually presents itself in the clinic or hospital and integrate their new theoretical knowledge into practice. The participant should attempt to answer each question in the case study before reading the correct answer.

Practical skills

Some Bettercare books include workshops on skills that need to be practised, preferably in groups. These skills workshops list essential equipment and present step-by-step instructions on how to perform each task, often with pictures. If participants are not familiar with a practical skill, they should ask an appropriate medical or nursing colleague to demonstrate the clinical skill to them. In this way, senior personnel are encouraged to share their skills with their colleagues. Some of the skills are demonstrated in video clips in our online books.

Bettercare exams

Bettercare has, in the past, offered a final examination for each course. Participants needed to achieve at least 80% in the final examination to receive a digital certificate stating that they have successfully completed the learning course. Due to financial constraints, the exams-on-line can no longer be offered. It is hoped that this service will once again be offered in future.

Updating the course material

Bettercare learning programmes are regularly updated to keep up with developments and changes in healthcare protocols. Course participants can make important contributions to the continual improvement of Bettercare books by reporting factual or language errors, by identifying sections that are difficult to understand, and by suggesting additions or improvements to the contents. Details of alternative or better forms of management would be particularly appreciated. Please send any comments or suggestions to the Editor-in-Chief, Professor David Woods.

Contact information


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