Background paper

Virtual Reality for Medical and Nursing Training in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Muinga, N., Paton, C. 2019. Virtual reality for medical and nursing training in low- and middle-income countries. Pathways for Prosperity Commission Background Paper Series; no. 25. Oxford, United Kingdom.

This paper reviews the potential for the use of new low-cost Virtual Reality (VR) technology for conducting medical simulation training in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). VR has been used in medical simulation training for many years but has traditionally been very expensive and required large machines that would be difficult to set up and maintain in LMICs. However, new advances in computer technology have enabled a new generation of consumer-focused VR hardware that offers the potential for implementation in LMICs. Our research team based in Oxford and Kenya developed a VR training scenario for the Life-saving Instruction for Emergencies (LIFE) project. We tested LIFE:VR with healthcare workers in Kenya to establish the potential feasibility and acceptability of low-cost VR for medical simulation training. We found that healthcare workers were enthusiastic about the approach but the systems we tested had a number of technical limitations such as requiring powerful laptop computers and the installation of laser tracking base-stations that would limit scale up. However, newly announced hardware from major VR manufacturers appear to address these technical issues and will continue to reduce the costs of devices increasing the potential for wider adoption in LMICs.