In 2022, we are celebrating the 5th anniversary of our open online learning platform for health emergencies. We invite you to explore our journey from June 2017 to June 2022 by clicking on the features below.
Access the full recording of our 5-year anniversary webinar featuring Dr Tedros, WHO colleagues and partners here.
Open online learning has connected millions of people across the globe with science-based knowledge about the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to groundwork that was laid years before the emergence of the novel coronavirus.
WHO anticipated that a global health emergency would bring massive demand for trusted information and set out to launch a learning platform that breaks down as many barriers to access as possible – Courses would be free of charge, available in multiple formats to reflect learners’ diverse preferences and levels of internet connectivity, and translated into the languages spoken by those affected by health emergencies.
The OpenWHO.org learning platform was thus launched in June 2017, with its first course focused on another coronavirus – Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). By the end of its first year, OpenWHO had a modest 49 000 enrolments, growing to 120 000 enrolments during its second year as it supported frontline responders in localized outbreaks like Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
COVID-19 brought an exponential surge in demand for OpenWHO learning in early 2020 as people sought trusted information to protect themselves and their communities from the new health threat. Enrolments climbed from 160 000 in January 2020 to 3 million just six months later. The platform prioritized translation into as many languages as possible, recognizing that learning is easier in your own tongue, and began focusing on country-specific support in 2021 through a new Serving Countries learning portal.
Five years after its launch, OpenWHO now has 6.7 million total enrolments across 155 courses on key public health topics, including 46 produced for the COVID-19 response. Courses are available in 64 national and local languages and learners have earned 3.6 million course certificates.
The platform’s journey exemplifies the critical role of preparedness in strengthening capacity to respond to health emergencies whenever and wherever they arise to save lives and reduce suffering. OpenWHO built on its existing systems to quickly launch a global learning response to COVID-19, helping cement the role of online learning as an essential element in the response to health emergencies.
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