Our history

Bettercare developed from the work of the Perinatal Education Programme, and since 2007 in partnership with Electric Book Works.

The Perinatal Education Trust

For over twenty years, the Perinatal Education Programme (PEP) was produced and distributed by the Perinatal Education Trust, a non-profit organisation that aimed to improve the care of pregnant women and their newborn infants, especially in poor, rural communities.

The PEP approach, now called Bettercare, presents a unique form of self training for health professionals that places the responsibility for continuing education on the participants themselves. It is cheap, appropriate, practical, and does not require a teacher.

Several trials and studies documented the effectiveness of PEP in improving theoretical knowledge, clinical skills, attitudes and patient care practices.

The PEP approach has always offered an educational opportunity to all nurses and doctors who are not able to access traditional training programmes in maternal and newborn care.

It is widely used by both medical and nursing students, in self-managed groups, basic courses, and formal training programmes. Although PEP was designed to address maternal and newborn care in South Africa, it is widely used in other developing countries and poor communities in developed countries.

PEP principles

Each Bettercare book still follows the original principles developed in PEP courses:

The beginning of the Perinatal Education Trust

Most previous methods of continuous training, especially for nurses, consisted of instructional courses at central hospitals. These traditional courses were expensive and managed by formal tutors. Frequently participants had to leave their homes and places of employment to attend these courses. The content was often inappropriate to the needs of smaller hospitals and clinics and did not address the health care problems of poor, rural communities. The result commonly was disappointment and frustration. Therefore, traditional training courses were often not accessible to staff working in rural areas where maternal and perinatal mortality rates are the highest. Due to lack of funding, few experienced tutors, long distances and the impracticality of moving essential staff away from their homes and workplaces, what was urgently needed was some form of self-help, distance learning programme.

Beginning in 1989, the first two PEP books were written by a small team of paediatricians, obstetricians, and nurses. Later, suggestions and comments by colleagues from all over South Africa were incorporated in an attempt to reach a consensus document on the care of mothers and infants. On an ongoing basis, the results of course tests, together with ideas from participants, still help to identify minor problems or improvements. As new and better methods of diagnosing and treating patients are found, additions and changes are made to the books. In this way, the courses are revised and updated and able to meet the ever changing needs of perinatal care.

Many of the educational methods used in our books were inspired by the Perinatal Continuing Education Programme (PCEP), a very successful and internationally used distance-learning course in advanced perinatal care developed in the USA (www.pcep.org).

In 2007, the PET partnered with Electric Book Works to improve the production quality and distribution of the PEP materials. During the course of this partnership, the books became published under the Bettercare name.


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