New covid-19 simulation training for smartphones helps African healthcare workers save lives

Oxford University’s LIFE project has launched a new set of app-based training scenarios that help healthcare workers in Africa safely manage and treat cases of children with suspected covid-19

6th July 2020, Oxford, UK and Nairobi, Kenya

Life-saving Instruction for Emergencies (LIFE) is a smartphone-based virtual learning platform that allows healthcare workers to access high quality medical training in low-resource settings. Developed by doctors, nurses and researchers at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP) in Kenya and the University of Oxford, the platform has now launched new training scenarios to help healthcare workers in Africa safely deliver care to children with suspected covid-19.

LIFE allows healthcare workers to enter a realistic 3D virtual hospital on their own smartphones, allowing them to train anywhere, anytime. In low-resource settings such as Kenya, access to simulation training can be difficult and expensive, so using their own smartphones to train could enable more healthcare workers to receive the high-quality training they need to save lives.

Neonatal resuscitation training delivered through the LIFE smartphone app has been rolled out to more than 5,000 healthcare workers through partnerships with medical and nursing schools and professional organisations such as the Kenya Paediatric Association and the Nursing Council of Kenya. This new update to the LIFE app adds three new training scenarios on the management of children with suspected covid-19.

Conrad Wanyama, a nurse from the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme who led the development of the covid-19 clinical content, said:

“We have used official WHO guidance to develop a highly engaging training app for healthcare workers in Africa. The covid-19 scenarios use 3D animations and videos to show how to follow correct infection control procedures to safely and effectively manage children who are suspected of having covid-19.”

Dr Chris Paton, the lead researcher for LIFE from the University of Oxford, commented:

“Smartphones are now very commonly used by healthcare workers in Africa. After downloading the app for free to their phones, healthcare workers can now train anywhere that is convenient and learn the key steps they need to know to save lives in emergencies.”

Tuti Ng’ang’a, a DPhil student at the University of Oxford, studied the effect of LIFE on healthcare workers’ learning gains. He said:

“There is a considerable learning gain between the first two rounds of learning for healthcare workers that use the LIFE app. My research showed that new approaches to adaptive feedback linked to how healthcare workers spaced their learning could improve learning gains further.”

Tuti’s research has just been published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research:


For further details, images and videos, or requests for interview, please contact:

Nairobi, Kenya

Cynthia Mauncho, Head of Communication, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust, Research Programme

T: +254780547440 | E:

United Kingdom

Claire-Lise Kessler, Communications & information officer, Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford

T: +44 (0)1865 612 900 | E:

LIFE Project, Oxford

Dr Chris Paton, Group Head for Global Health Informatics at the Centre for Tropical Medicine, Oxford University


Notes to Editors

About LIFE

Life-saving Instruction for Emergences (LIFE) is a virtual reality and smartphone app delivering medical training through mobile and VR platforms. The platform was initially developed by clinicians and researchers at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme and the University of Oxford, and its development has been supported by HTC, Oxford University Innovation, GCRF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, Saving Lives at Birth and Médecins Sans Frontières.

LIFE is available to download for free from for smartphones or search for “Life-saving Instruction for Emergencies” on the Google Play Store.

Follow the LIFE project on twitter

About the University of Oxford

The Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health at the University of Oxford is a collection of research groups permanently based in Oxford, in Africa (Kenya, Uganda and DRC) and in Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia and Nepal). Aiming to tackle infectious diseases, from malaria, TB and HIV to neglected tropical diseases and emerging infections, our research ranges from clinical studies to behavioural sciences, with capacity building integral to all of our activities.

Oxford University has been placed number 1 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for the fourth year running, and at the heart of this success is our ground-breaking research and innovation.

Oxford is world-famous for research excellence and home to some of the most talented people from across the globe. Our work helps the lives of millions, solving real-world problems through a huge network of partnerships and collaborations. The breadth and interdisciplinary nature of our research sparks imaginative and inventive insights and solutions.

Through its research commercialisation arm, Oxford University Innovation, Oxford is the highest university patent filer in the UK and is ranked first in the UK for university spinouts, having created more than 170 new companies since 1988. Over a third of these companies have been created in the past three years.

About the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)-Wellcome Trust Research Programme

The Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)-Wellcome Trust Research Programme was established in 1989, as a partnership between KEMRI, Oxford University and the Wellcome Trust. The Programme conducts basic, epidemiological, clinical, and health systems research in parallel, with results feeding directly into local and international health policy. KEMRI- Wellcome aims to expand the country’s capacity to conduct multidisciplinary research that is strong, sustainable and internationally competitive.

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