French President Emmanuel Macron, President and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, broke ground on Monday for the WHO Academy’s campus in the French city of Lyon.
The event marks a milestone in fulfilling a previous commitment by the two leaders to establish a WHO Academy in Lyon’s 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,” 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 a healthier, safer, 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, personalized learning programs 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”, said President Macron. “Investing in health systems is the best way to prepare for future pandemics. 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”.
The Academy aims to expand access to critical learning to health workers, managers, public health officials, educators, researchers, policymakers and people who provide care in their own homes and communities, as well as to WHO’s workforce throughout the world. The vast majority will use online means to access the Academy’s programs, which will be made available via desktop and mobile devices and in low-bandwidth settings, thereby ensuring an equitable, global and diverse cohort of learners.
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. This achievement is possible thanks to the collective actions, commitment and financial support of the City of Lyon and the Lyon Metropole, as well as from the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, which contributed 25 million Euros of the total investment. The region will own the campus and lease it to WHO.