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Capacity Building

Our capacity building projects focus on collaborative and sustainable paediatric health workforce training and education programs; with emphasis on health systems strengthening for specific newborn, child and adolescent health issues where there is a match between identified need and skills and SickKids' expertise.

The criteria for our projects include impact, reach, sustainability, local ownership, efficacy and scalability.

Experienced clinical and project management teams drive current initiatives in Africa, the Caribbean and online.

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Capacity building in Africa

Current projects

Sickle Cell Disease Newborn Screening in Ghana

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is one of the most common genetic diseases worldwide. In Ghana, about one in every 50 children is born with SCD, and more than half die before the age of five. These deaths can be avoided through simple, cost-effect interventions such as newborn screening, parental education and prevention of pneumococcal (by penicillin prophylaxis and pneumococcal vaccination) and malaria infections, which are essential and needed throughout areas where SCD is prevalent.

Aligning with the Ghana Ministry of Health’s 2010 Policy to implement newborn screening for SCD nationwide, we’ve partnered with Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) to implement a SCD newborn screening program at KBTH - Ghana’s largest public hospital. Support for this project is provided by Pfizer.

The program is designed to identify SCD-positive babies as early as possible and provide them with the treatment they need to reduce illness and death. The program is charting progress, collecting data on screening and treatment, and will serve as a model for other centres across sub-Saharan Africa.

Partners and Stakeholders
  • Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra, Ghana
  • Ghana Health Service
  • Sickle Cell Foundation of Ghana
  • Build capacity within KBTH to screen and treat all children with SCD
  • Screen approximately 11,000 newborns at KBTH each year, plus an additional 12,500 through community expansion in 2020-2021
  • Follow babies identified as SCD-positive through regular clinic visits at KBTH
  • Collect patient data and maintain a patient registry
  • Ensure all patients have access to medication and treatment
  • Apply learnings to inform newborn screening programs beyond the hospital

We also leverage the Global Sickle Cell Disease Network  to share our learnings with the global SCD community.

To learn more about the program's activities check out the latest issue of the Program Update

Past projects

The SickKids-Ghana Paediatric Nursing Education Partnership (PNEP) trains knowledgeable, confident and clinically skilled paediatric nurses. PNEP contributes to reducing preventable deaths and improving wellbeing for newborns and children in Ghana, while advancing child health and the profession of nursing in Ghana through practice-focused paediatric nursing education. 

Since 2010, SickKids and health systems partners in Ghana have welcomed funding from the Government of Canada and SickKids Foundation to deliver specialized paediatric nursing education at the post-basic level through a one-year training program. PNEP’s goal is to follow the Ghanaian-led vision of training 1,500 nurses by 2025.  

Between 2010 and 2014, over 220 paediatric nurses were trained through a partnership with the University of Ghana, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Ghana, Ministry of Health, Ghana and the Ghana Health Service.   

To learn more about the work done between 2010 and 2014 visit the Journal of Nursing Education and Practice article “Impact and sustainability of an accredited paediatric nursing training programme in Ghana”.

Nursing as a vehicle for improving child health: A SickKids-Ghana Partnership

The SickKids-Ghana Paediatric Nursing Education Partnership (PNEP) is helping scale up paediatric nursing education across Ghana and ultimately improving health outcomes for children.

Between 2015 and 2020, SickKids partnered with the Ghana College of Nurses and Midwives (GCNM), the Ministry of Health, Ghana and Ghana Health Services to continue and expand the program to ensure capacity, infrastructure and human capital remained sustainable. During this time, 501 additional paediatric nurses were trained by nurse educators in Ghana. Additionally, over 1,200 health workers from all 16 of Ghana’s regions were trained through Continuing Professional Development sessions focused on newborn care, sickle cell disease and nutrition. GCNM continues to operate the program in Ghana and is advancing specialty nursing education across the country. 

For more details, read the 2020 PNEP Newsletter and the BMC Nursing article on PNEP entitled “Scaling up pediatric nurse specialist education in Ghana – a longitudinal, mixed methods evaluation”. 

PNEP COVID-19 Response program

In 2021, the SickKids-Ghana Paediatric Nursing Education Partnership started the COVID-19 Response program in partnership with the Ghana College of Nurses and Midwives, Ghana Health Service and Ministry of Health, Ghana. The COVID-19 response program focuses on strengthening health workers’ preparedness, increasing knowledge and addressing misinformation through community engagement. The program focuses on pregnant women and young girls while promoting best practices related to COVID-19 across Ghana. The four pillars of the COVID-19 Response program are: 

  1. COVID-19 Continuing Professional Development courses 
  2. Strengthening COVID-19 content in existing GCNM programmes 
  3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) procurement  
  4. COVID-19 outreach and community engagement

SickKids-Ghana Paediatric Nursing Education Partnership extended to support Ghana’s COVID-19 response

SickKids is working together with the Ghana College of Nurses and Midwives, Ghana Health Service and Ghana Ministry of Health to assist their response to COVID-19.

Frontline workers (health facility and community health workers) play a critical role in identifying and addressing nutrition-related health issues. In both clinical nutrition practice and public health, the need for health practitioners to perform effectively, efficiently and sustainably requires access to comprehensive and practical educational resources.

In response to the identified gaps in nutrition training in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), we partnered with academic centres in LMICs to develop comprehensive in-service nutrition training packages for frontline workers.

Building on the SickKids Public Health Nutrition Course curriculum, the training combined theory and practicum-based learning focused on applied nutrition and skills development. The curriculum also ensures that frontline workers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are equipped with adequate knowledge to meet the relevant nutritional needs of the populations they are serving.

Partner: East, Central and South African Health Community (ECSA) 

In response to the identified gap in globally accessible capacity building tools for nutrition practitioners working in remote, low-middle income countries, we partnered with the Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA) to develop an online, Peer Learning Platform (PLP) accessible on mobile devices.

Under the umbrella of ADRA’s EMBRACE project, we took on a consultant role and provided content expertise for the PLP while leveraging the assets from the SickKids Online Public Health Nutrition Course, as well as the In-Service Nutrition Training curriculum developed for the East, Central and South Africa Health Community. We assisted in adapting these assets to the Rwandan context and ensuring the PLP is interactive and user-friendly.

The PLP was developed for use in the Nyabihu district of Rwanda by formally trained health facility-based workers.

Partners: Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA); Chalkboard Education 

Specialized Newborn Care Education (SNCE) was launched in partnership with Amref Health Africa, as part of the Canada-Africa Initiative to Address Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality, a program implemented by a consortium of Canadian organizations in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania from March 2016 to March 2020, funded by Global Affairs Canada.


  • Development of a specialized newborn care education module delivered in collaboration with Amref Health Africa to nurses, midwives, doctors, clinical officers and other health workers in Ethiopia and Malawi and development of an essential newborn care education model delivered in Tanzania to meet the local priority.
  • 183 participants trained including 68 health workers in Malawi, 45 in Tanzania and 70 in Ethiopia. Of the participants in Tanzania, 15 were trained in Specialized Newborn Care and 30 received Essential Newborn Care training.
  • An evaluation of the three Malawi deliveries was completed in 2018 in order to assess the retention of knowledge, confidence and skills after specialized neonatal care training, and to provide refresher training.

Capacity building in the Caribbean

Current projects

Shaw Centre for Paediatric Excellence (SCPE)

SCPE is a partnership focused on elevating and further integrating education, clinical care, and research to positively impact the health and well-being of children in Barbados and throughout the Eastern Caribbean. SCPE is investing in excellence and innovation in paediatric education and paediatric care, patient and family experience in the clinical environment and paediatric research and innovation over the space of seven years (2020-2027). To learn more, view the SCPE one-pager (PDF).

Partners and Stakeholders 

SickKids Centre for Global Child Health is working in partnership with the Barbados Ministry of Health and Wellness, Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and The University of the West Indies (The UWI), and The UWI George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre. 


Barbados will be established as a centre for paediatric excellence through a robust partnership and targeted investment in 

  • Establishing a critical mass of health workers with expertise in paediatrics, and maximize the quality of the environments in which they work 
  • Leveraging the new skilled health workforce to improve the quality of paediatric care and establish a culture of continuous improvement 
  • Research and advocacy that informs policy and drives sustainability 
Anticipated Results 
  • Development and initiation of a post-graduate diploma in paediatric nursing through The UWI, Cave Hill Campus  
  • Training of physicians in targeted paediatric subspecialties identified by QEH 
  • Ongoing improvement of clinical care in Barbados through international observerships in quality improvement and quality improvement initiatives 
  • Establishment of patient amenity fund to support families from the Eastern Caribbean to access care at QEH 
  • Refurbishment of QEH paediatric ward and child health polyclinics 
  • Investment in research to inform policy and drive sustainability 
Learn more about SCPE by reading the 2020 launch announcement: 
Go to article

SickKids and Government of Barbados launch partnership to establish Centre for Paediatric Excellence

Over a span of seven years, the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health will work with its partners in Barbados and in the broader region, to establish Barbados as a Centre for Paediatric Excellence.

For more information, please contact 

SickKids-Caribbean Initiative (SCI)

SCI is a not-for-profit collaboration between the Centre for Global Child Health and seven Caribbean institutions across six countries that strives to improve the outcomes and quality of life for children with cancer and blood disorders.

Since 2013, healthcare specialists at SickKids in Toronto and their counterparts in the Caribbean have been working together to support the early identification and treatment of children living with cancer and blood disorders in the Caribbean.

In 2022, the SickKids Foundation established The Victor Blanchette Caribbean Endowment Fund in honour of Dr. Victor Blanchette, a founding member of SCI, in recognition of his commitment and dedication to the enhancement of paediatric care in the Caribbean. The fund supports continued work focused on paediatric cancer and blood disorders in the Caribbean.  

Partners and Stakeholders 

SCI is a collaboration between SickKids, the University of the West Indies (UWI), Ministries of Health and key hospitals and institutions from the six participating Caribbean countries: The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. 


Building sustainable, local capacity to diagnose, treat and manage paediatric cancers and blood disorders in the region through: 

  • Providing training and education in the areas of haematology/oncology, nursing, and laboratory services based on expressed needs of Caribbean partners 
  • Establishing best practices and improving health outcomes through the development and maintenance of local hospital-based paediatric oncology databases and treatment protocols adapted for local use 
  • Establishing an integrated and sustainable communication structure to promote education between local partners and SickKids, creating and enhancing a regional community of practice
  • Improved access to services for children with cancer and blood disorders in the Caribbean 
  • Enhanced capacity for Caribbean partners to provide timely, accurate diagnosis and high-quality follow-up care 
  • Strengthened infrastructure that enhances capacity to care for children with cancer and blood disorders 
  • Indirect benefits for other users of health systems in the region 
  • Robust knowledge exchange and new regional and global linkages established, fostering a sustainable community of practice in the region

For more details, check out the SCI 2020-2021 Annual Progress Report, Midterm Evaluation Report (PDF) and Final Evaluation Report (PDF). For past years’ reports, please contact

SCI patient education materials for health-care providers
SCI technical papers - highlighting the comprehensive project work from inception to 2022

Focused on improving the capacity of local health care professionals to diagnose and treat children with cancer and blood disorders in the Caribbean, the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative (SCI) is an innovative partnership between The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada, the University of the West Indies (UWI), local ministries of health and hospitals at seven sites across six Caribbean countries (Barbados, The Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago). 

The following five technical papers, entitled “Reflections on the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative”, provide detailed overviews of key elements of SCI during the first two of its three phases (from 2013 to 2022):

Questions? Contact the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative at:

Capacity building in Ukraine

Ukraine Paediatric Fellowship Program (UPFP)

A group shot of nine people dressed in hospital scrubs

What began as a neurosurgery and psychiatry initiative in 2013 has since evolved into the Ukraine Paediatric Fellowship Program (UPFP) — a robust capacity building program between SickKids Centre for Global Child Health and hospitals in Ukraine focused on improving the quality of paediatric healthcare for Ukrainian children.

Through fellowships and observerships in Toronto with SickKids specialists across multiple disciplines including oncology, neurology, anesthesia, neonatology, and psychiatry, Ukrainian doctors learn the latest skills and techniques to deliver life-saving care to the children of Ukraine.

Advisory Trips to Ukraine

Led by UPFP Directors Drs. James Rutka and Myroslava Romach, each advisory team consists of SickKids specialists across multiple disciplines. In Ukraine, they guide surgeries and offer clinical consultations; teach procedures, clinical advances, and patient care practices.

More from the Centre for Global Child Health

About the Centre for Global Child Health

The Centre for Global Child Health connects researchers and health-care professionals around the world to improve the lives of children and their families in resource-poor environments.


Learn how leading child health experts are addressing global challenges through collaborative, innovative research.

Knowledge Synthesis, Translation and Advocacy

Centre initiatives, partnerships and networks are focused on the translation and management of knowledge to impact child health policy.

Fellowships and Student Opportunities

We offer fellowships and student placements to prepare the next generation of leaders in global child health, as well as free courses to expand availability of training to health-care workers worldwide.

Contact us

For questions or more information about the Centre, please email us at, and follow us on Twitter @SickKidsGlobal and LinkedIn.


Centre for Global Child Health 
The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) 
525 University Avenue, Suite 702 
Toronto, ON, M5G 2L3

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