As public health emergencies have become more complex so have the responses – with local, national and international personnel involved, all bringing different backgrounds, cultures and levels of knowledge.
For WHO’s experts, it became clear that a crucial tool in the war against epidemics and pandemics would be getting timely, accurate, up-to-date information to the growing cadre of responders – regardless of how remote or difficult their location.
“The major epidemics we have seen this century highlighted the need for a system that quickly transforms scientific knowledge into action on the ground,” said Dr Gaya Gamhewage, Manager of WHO’s Support for Response team in the Department of Infectious Hazard Management
For epidemic disease, it is particularly important to make sure that responders and volunteers know how to protect themselves.
To tackle this 21st century problem, WHO turned to a 21st century solution – the creation of a suite of Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs.
The platform offers four channels of self-paced learning materials that cover key technical, operational and social elements of epidemic and pandemic response.
- The Outbreak Channel cover the science of fighting pandemics and epidemics.
- The Ready for Response Channel focuses on improving emergency response operations.
- Get Social covers necessary soft skills such as risk communications, social mobilization and community engagement.
- The GOARN channel contains information for Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network participants – preparing them for emergency field work.
So far more than 34 courses have been uploaded onto the on the Platform. More are in the pipeline – along with multiple language versions. A new channel dedicated to pandemics will be launched in the next few months.