What to know about WHO's newly launched courses on outbreaks, emergencies

A health worker attends to a patient in Nigeria. Photo by: A. Clements-Hunt / WHO

The World Health Organization has launched a series of online courses for frontline responders to epidemics and emergencies.

The video lectures contain essential information taken from hundreds of pages of WHO technical and scientific manuals. They are packaged in video format to be easily accessible and digestible for those seeking information on particular epidemics such as Ebola and the Middle East respiratory syndrome, as well as essential skills and knowledge in emergency response such as risk communication and community engagement.

“The existing guidance is complex and not easy to understand for those who do not have special training in public health. Also, even if people on the frontline of emergency response can understand the science in our guidelines, it is difficult to find or carry heavy manuals in the field,” said Dr. Gaya Gamhewage, manager of the interventions and guidance team under WHO’s Health Emergencies Program.

Like many of the reforms taking place at WHO, the idea for the initiative was borne out of the U.N. health aid agency’s experience during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. At the time, the aid agency had to train more than 100,000 individuals needed to scale up the response within a few weeks’ time. That experience led the agency to think about harnessing the potential of technology for such purpose, and out came OpenWHO, the platform they are now using to introduce these video lectures.

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About the author

  • Ravelo jennylei

    Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.