Healthcare Public policy Cross-sector

Lyon the home of the new WHO Academy

Published on 15 September 2022 Read 25 min

Education has always been a priority for the World Health Organization, but the COVID-19 crisis made it clear that there is an increasing need to train all healthcare professionals around the world with the latest medical information. The WHO Academy is the new global training platform for health professionals that uses the latest technology for online and in-person trainings to spread knowledge in an interactive way. On May 2021, the WHO and the French government launched the first Academy online training, while offline courses will start in 2023 at the WHO Academy’s brand new headquarters in Lyon, France.

The WHO Academy: an approach to face present and future training needs

COVID-19 stressed the importance of spreading knowledge equally around the world to achieve a coordinated and rapid response towards a crisis. The World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges this need and recognizes that other health topics should not be ignored. According to the WHO Director :

The COVID-19 pandemic is a powerful reminder of the value of health workers and why they need the latest information, skills and tools.

Today, less than 5% of countries are on track to achieve the health targets in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which include reducing maternal and child mortality, end the AIDS epidemic, support the research and development of vaccines for diseases that affect developing countries; as well as reducing the burden of other important health issues. To achieve these goals the WHO calculates that the world needs an extra 18 million well-prepared health agents.

Due to the imminent need of more and better trained health professionals, especially in developing countries, the WHO created the WHO Academy to provide lifelong learning to health professionals everywhere.

A single training platform for all health actors

The WHO Academy, which major sponsor is the French government, is an investment worth 120 million EUR aimed at training health workers, managers, public health officials, educators, researchers, and policymakers.

More than 1,400 courses are currently available for internal and external learners across 18 distinct WHO platforms. The WHO Academy will bring these courses together on a single platform, which will include technical advancements like artificial intelligence and virtual reality. The trainings are based on the most up-to-date research on adult learning methods in order to provide an innovative, individualized, and multilingual education.

Most of the trainings are directed to health workers in developing countries, who would be able to access the platform via internet. Some of the subjects that will be addressed in the WHO Academy include disease diagnosis, best practices for disease surveillance, prevention and treatment of infections during surgical procedures, how to react in case of a health emergency, among many others.

The Academy will hold in-person trainings in its new building in Lyon, France, in addition to its online programs. The online trainings began in May 2021, and the new building is scheduled to open in 2023.

The WHO Academy will be located in the heart of Lyon

The new Academy building, which is located within Gerland Biopôle in Lyon, France, will accommodate 16,000 trainees each year for face-to-face trainings on a variety of health topics. The new state-of-the art structure will include rooms for online and offline training, virtual reality rooms, research and innovation facilities, and a simulation center where health professionals will be taught how to deal with mass casualties and disease outbreaks. The Academy building is also smart, eco-friendly, and interactive, as defined by the United Nations. By 2023, more than 60 trainers and administrative staff will be on site to greet the first round of trainees.

Lyon was the French city selected to host the WHO Academy due to its exceptional ecosystem for medicine. The area is already home to WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, university hospitals, start-ups dedicated to health, as well as biotech companies, and large pharmaceutical groups.

The COVID-19 App: a teaser on the Academy’s capabilities

One of the first digital projects of the WHO Academy is the COVID-19 mobile app, which was developed in response to the present health crisis. The app, launched in May 2020, responds to the demand of more than 20,000 global health workers that expressed the need to have access to the most up-to-date guidelines and information.

One of the most requested training topics among health professionals was how to protect themselves while caring for their patients. To address this, the WHO Academy developed an augmented reality training that demonstrates the proper way to put on and remove personal protective equipment (PPE). This is only one illustration of the WHO Academy’s commitment to disseminate information through cutting-edge technologies.

The WHO knows that education needs to travel as fast as medical discoveries and people’s needs. To respond to this need WHO Academy will train health professionals around the world using the latest technology for online and offline trainings. The Academy is expected to have a positive impact in people’s health everywhere, especially at developing countries where information is difficult to access. Lyon will be the new home for the Academy, a city where pharma companies, research centers, universities, hospitals, consulting firms, and the WHO, work together to improve patients’ health.

Alcimed also works on the subject of training for health care providers. Our team supports its clients in the structuring and deployment of training programs in healthcare. If you are interested in this subject, do not wait any longer to contact us!

About the author, 

Ana, Consultant in Alcimed’s Life Sciences team in France

Do you have a project?
Our explorers are ready to discuss it with you

Contact our explorers >


You have a project?

    Tell us about your uncharted territory

    You have a project and want to discuss it with our explorers, write us!

    One of our explorers will contact you shortly.

    To go further