Revolutionizing lifelong learning in health.
A revolution is underway in adult learning. New and more effective methods of conveying knowledge and skills to working people. New technologies like artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Experiential learning approaches that recognize what trainees already know while offering a more immersive, effective and impactful learning experience.
Technology-fuelled. Driven by the latest science in how adults learn. These are the advancements that will empower the world’s growing health workforce to build healthy societies and economies – and to lead the way toward fulfilment of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals.
A new focus on learning for impact and building competencies to make the world a healthier place. This is the thinking behind the World Health Organization’s new WHO Academy, a state-of-the-art training institution that aims to bring the lifelong learning revolution to the health sector and reach 10 million learners around the world by 2023.
As a centre for delivering advanced digital and classroom training to health workers and others around the world, the WHO Academy will be a game changer for lifelong learning in health.
Scheduled to launch its first online courses in May 2021 and headquartered at a futuristic campus in Lyon, France, the Academy will be a globally accessible school for the future, combining the latest technologies in digital and remote learning with advancements in adult learning science to offer innovative, personalised and multilingual training that meets priority needs.
The WHO Academy is not a separate legal entity but is being set up as an internal WHO division that will be headed by a Chief Learning Officer at the level of a WHO Assistant Director-General. The division will therefore be an integral part of WHO under the management authority of the Director-General.
With the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals now less than a decade away, only a handful of countries are on track to meet all of the health-related targets. Meanwhile, despite huge growth in the global health workforce, there will still be a shortfall of 18 million health workers by 2030, with the biggest workforce development challenges falling on the lowest income countries.
The key problem is this: as the evidence base in medical science doubles every few months – and with that its potential to help countries improve health outcomes – it still takes more than a decade to implement the newest practices and normative guidance throughout the global health workforce.
Advancements in adult learning science present new and enormously effective ways to get critical knowledge to front line health workers and others who need it – and to verify the competencies they gain – so they can do their jobs better, increase their impact on improving health, and save lives.
A major reason for this lies in the shortcomings of currently-used training models. Classroom learning can be limited in capacity and expensive to deliver, while online learning typically lacks opportunities for hands-on practice, collaboration and verification of competencies gained.
What’s needed are new ways to speedily get knowledge, evidence and information into the hands of people who can make a difference. These are the medical professionals and other members of the health workforce, or public health officials, regulators and policy makers who play a role in transforming knowledge into practice – or even ordinary people who are caregivers in their own homes and neighborhoods.
Fortunately, the science of adult learning is also advancing at breakneck speed. This has led to new tools and methods that can achieve greater impact through lifelong learning at a much bigger scale.
Improving the speed, efficiency and effectiveness in which the latest health knowledge and evidence gets to health practitioners worldwide – which is the focus of the WHO Academy – will empower doctors, nurses, public health officials and other health workers to accelerate advancements in medical care and practices to patients and communities.
With COVID-19 science now doubling every 20 days and new guidance being published daily by WHO, the WHO Academy continues to improve its COVID - 19 mobile learning app so that health workers can keep up with the constantly evolving knowledge related to this disease. New features added to the app today enable health workers to bookmark the content they like, as well as receive push notifications through the app when new content is added.