The OpenWHO.org was launched in 2017 to facilitate the transfer of the World Health Organization’s public health knowledge for emergencies on a massive scale in anticipation of the next pandemic. Grounded in the principles of open access and equity, courses are free, self-paced, accessible in lowbandwidth and offline formats, and available in national and local languages. While the platform served front-line responders in outbreaks from Ebola to plague, Covid-19 marked its first pandemic test.

Demand for OpenWHO surged during the pandemic. In December 2021, OpenWHO hosted 6 million enrolments across 120 courses, including 39 courses for Covid-19 and 81 in other areas of WHO expertise, and had awarded 3.2 million certificates. Courses on 24 different diseases are introduced on OpenWHO. Courses were available in 60 languages, with more than 11 million words translated so that communities can access life-saving information in their mother tongues. The ability to massively scale up the transfer of life-saving knowledge in an emergency is based on ensuring access. It means removing all barriers, including that of digital access.

OpenWHO will continue to expand its reach and learning offerings, with a focus on systematically transferring the platform’s services to serve countries with adapted and localized learning content, including national and local languages. The more equitable the knowledge sharing and dissemination from the trusted sources are, the more the learning resources are aligned with the specific needs of the vulnerable populations and the sooner knowledge shifts into behavior change, the better populations can protect themselves. In this, learning saves lives.


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