WHO Academy in Lyon Will Promote Global Digital Learning for Health Workers
digital learning
President of France Emmanuel Macron, speaking at the launch of the WHO Academy

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Gheybreyesus and French President Emmanuel Macron today broke ground at the launch of the first WHO Academy in the French city of Lyon. 

The Academy fulfills a commitment by the two leaders to make WHO training more widely available to member states, and more systematically offered across various new digital media channels. 

“The ambitions of the WHO Academy are not modest: to transform lifelong learning in health globally,” said Dr Tedros. “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. 

He added: “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, fairer future.”

This initiative is one of a number of WHO projects in collaboration with major European countries in a new wave of science and diplomatic collaborations that notably coincide with France and Germany’s co-sponsoring of Tedros’ candidacy for re-election

Recently, the WHO and the German government launched a pandemic surveillance hub in Berlin.

Training for those ‘on the ground’

From its campus in Lyon, the Academy will provide millions of people around the world with rapid access to health training tailored to meet the needs of those “on the ground”, Academy Executive Director Agnes Buzyn said during the launch event Monday. 

“We want to have a wealth of programs, we want to have a real portfolio, which will be relevant for a whole range of health care professionals and health care workers.

“But of course this has to meet people’s needs, so out on the ground we need to really take stock of what those needs are so that we can adapt to them and provide the kind of skill and competences that it’s needed to improve healthcare worldwide.”

The academy will be made available via desktop and mobile devices in low-bandwidth settings, ensuring a global and diverse cohort. 

Additionally, the academy will: harness new high-impact technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence; formally recognize “digital credentials” to help participants advance their careers; and offer more than 100 major learning programs by 2023, with credentialled programs for COVID-19 vaccine Equity, Universal Health Coverage, Health Emergencies and Healthier Lives. 

COVID-19 – ‘Motor of Innovation’ for digital learning

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Gheybreyesus

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted in-person learning systems, generating a growing demand for digital learning, and may be a crucial step in advancing WHO guidance and health solidarity in low- and middle-income countries. 

“The guidance we give has not always delivered the impact as it should in countries. Too often it sits on the shelf or in an overworked health administrator’s inbox and isn’t fully implemented. The norms, the guidance we prepared – we need to find ways of making sure WHO guidance is applied faster and delivers results faster,” said Tedros.

Emmanuel Macron also noted that this partnership would allow France to reach out to those in the African continent to train healthcare professionals in order to “have true health solidarity at a global level.” 

“You cannot emerge from an international crisis or pandemic without solidarity, and this crisis really was the motor of innovation.”

Image Credits: WHO.

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