WHO academy expands access to life-long learning in health

FILE PHOTO - A logo is pictured outside a building of the World Health Organization (WHO) during an executive board meeting on update on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Geneva, Switzerland, April 6, 2021. REUTERS-Denis Balibouse

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has conducted a groundbreaking ceremony for the organisation’s academy in order to expand access to critical learning health guidance and competency-building.

Mr Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, and Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, performed the groundbreaking for the WHO Academy’s campus in the French city of Lyon on Monday.

A statement made available to newsmen in Abuja stated that the event marked a milestone in fulfilling a previous commitment by the two leaders to establish a WHO Academy in Lyon’s bio-medical district.

It stated that the academy was for a bio-medical district to meet the needs of the WHO Member States and a growing global health workforce for expanded access to life-long learning, health guidance and competency-building.

“The quickening pace of scientific discovery and advancement of technology is making it more difficult for health workers, policymakers and other public health practitioners to keep up with evidence-based health practice and policy.

“As a result, it often takes more than a decade to put important life-saving guidelines into practice.

“This is a key reason why no country is currently on track to achieve all of the health targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The COVID-19 pandemic has also disrupted life-long learning systems, generating a growing demand for digital learning.

“The ambitions of the WHO Academy are not modest: to transform lifelong learning in health globally.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a powerful demonstration of the value of health workers, and why they need the most up-to-date information, competencies and tools to keep their communities healthy and safe,’’ it quoted Tedros.

According to the statement, the WHO Academy is an investment in health, education, knowledge and technology, but ultimately it’s an investment in people, and in a healthier, safer and fairer future.

“From its campus in Lyon, the Academy will provide millions of people around the world with rapid access to the highest quality life-long learning in health.

“It will offer multilingual, personalised learning programmes in digital, in-person and blended formats, deploying the latest evidence-based health guidance, state-of-the-art learning technologies and advancements in the science of adult learning.

“The quality of the health workforce is the key to resilience during a health crisis.

“Investing in health systems is the best way to prepare for future pandemics,’’ it quoted Macron.

According to it, success requires unprecedented coordination of all actors.

WHO is, of course, a key player and its academy will be an essential platform for disseminating learning.

It said that the academy aimed to expand access to critical learning to health workers, managers, public health officials, educators, researchers, policymakers.

It would also help those who provide care in their own homes and communities, as well as to WHO’s own workforce throughout the world.

It said that the vast majority would use online means to access the academy’s programmes,

According to it, it will be made available via desktop and mobile devices and in low-bandwidth settings, thereby ensuring an equitable, global and diverse cohort of learners.

It said the academy would harness the capabilities of new, high-impact technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and serious educational games to deliver health learning for maximum impact.

“Formally recognise the competencies gained by learners through ‘digital credentials’ that they can show to employers and regulatory agencies to help advance their careers.

“Offer more than 100 major learning programmes by 2023, with flagship credentialed programmes for COVID-19 Vaccine Equity, Universal Health Coverage, Health Emergencies and Healthier Lives,’’ it said.

It said the academy would also offer its learners streamlined access to WHO’s full breadth of hundreds of e-learning programmes currently spread over 20 digital learning platforms as well as access to high-quality learning programmes developed by others.

It also said that when the academy opens in 2024, the academy campus in Lyon would have high-tech and people-centred spaces designed for collaborative learning, educational research and innovation.

It said the academy would also host a world-class health emergencies simulation centre that will use high-fidelity technologies to enable health workers to sharpen their competencies amid realistic scenarios including mass casualties and disease outbreaks.

It said that the two leaders reviewed an architectural model of the building and talked via video-link with health workers, who have participated in the Academy’s Mass Casualty Management programme.

It further said the programme was already operating in several countries including France, Greece, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Somalia.

It said that WHO also used the occasion to announce the appointment, which became effective Aug. 16, 2021, of Dr Agnès Buzyn, as the Academy’s Executive Director.

It said that she has been serving since January as the WHO Director-General’s Envoy for Multilateral Affairs, during which time she has also supervised the Academy project.

“As a WHO Member State and a key actor in global health, France is the lead investor in the academy’s development, having committed more than 120 million euros to support its establishment and infrastructure.

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