WHO mobile learning app on COVID-19 supports health workers around the globe

FDI network_WHO_COVID-19 mobile application

Photo courtesy World Health Organization

The World Health Organization’s lifelong learning center, the WHO Academy, recently launched a mobile learning app that provides health workers with critical, evidence-based information and tools to respond to COVID-19. The app delivers mobile access to a wealth of COVID-19 knowledge resources developed by WHO, including the latest guidance, tools, training, and virtual workshops to support health workers in caring for patients with COVID-19 and in protecting themselves as they do their critical work.

FDI spoke to Dr Ave Põld, a dentist by training and the mobile content manager at the WHO Academy, to learn more about the mobile application and its relevance for the oral health community.

WHO Academy mobile content manager
Dr Ave Põld

Introducing the World Health Organization Academy

Several years ago, the World Health Organization began developing an idea of establishing its own lifelong learning center, and the WHO Academy was born. In addition to offering a plethora of customizable online courses, the Academy will also have a campus in Lyon, France. The Academy aims to approach adult learning in a very innovative and digital way by building a high-quality, multi-lingual learning facility. The Academy plans to have their first online courses available by May 2021.

“The Academy campus in Lyon will host a digital learning platform, but it will also be the main public health education facility of the World Health Organization,” says Põld. “It will coordinate course development, feedback, collaboration, teamwork, research, and more.

Our bigger aim is to train health workers… and to have a health workforce globally that understands the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda, especially the focus on SDG 3 to ‘ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.’”


A dentist by training, Dr Põld joined the WHO Academy during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, the WHO approached the Academy to develop a mobile application for COVID-19 because they knew that the Academy was already developing ideas to have a mobile application, or several mobile applications, targeting emergencies in healthcare,” says Põld.

Põld is part of the team that was tasked with developing this application, while taking great care to develop it in an evidence-based way. As the content manager, she gathers all the content found on the app (including courses, tools, latest news and literature) and makes it available to users on the application. The application is meant to make life easier for health workers by gathering all WHO COVID-19 materials in one place.

“[The COVID-19 app brings] together all the materials and all the resources that WHO has already authored and is constantly publishing around COVID-19. The app is the place where people can have access to all the resources which are otherwise really difficult to find, because they’re scattered across all different WHO departments, regions, websites and webpages.”

To inform the application content, the Academy launched a global survey destined for health workers. The application reflects the needs and ideas of the 20,000 health workers who responded to this survey.

“Two-thirds of respondents highlighted the need for additional guidance on infection prevention and control, case management, the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and occupational safety,” says Põld.

In addition, she explained that quite a lot of respondents expressed increased interest in virtual learning platforms, including mobile learning applications, and said that they would be quite helpful in preparing for the challenges posed by COVID-19.

Is the app useful for dentists and dental teams?

While the application does not contain specific content for oral health professionals, most of the guidance materials are general and can easily apply to dentists and dental teams. The app contains relevant guidance on PPE, guidelines for aerosol generating procedures, and templates for COVID-specific patient forms. There are also many resources on healthcare facility management. While dental clinics may differ is some ways to other health facilities, most of the general COVID-19 guidance remains the same.

As a dentist herself, Põld says that she finds these subjects most relevant for the profession. The application also contains general news and information on the pandemic.

“Let’s say that every 20 days, the amount of COVID-19 related knowledge [essentially] doubles. So this means that [there’s an] enormous amount of research [being done]. There’s also a lot of misinformation out there as well. The [WHO COVID-19] application is an excellent resource for all health workers to find out what is legitimate (and what’s not) when we talk about COVID,” says Põld.

While the application itself is not designed to offer customized resources, Põld says that something the dental community can certainly look forward to is the launch of the Academy. Many of the courses that will be offered by the Academy will be customizable for different healthcare professions, including dentistry.

“I personally believe it’s a very good boost towards linking oral health more with healthcare in general,” says Põld.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

More information on the WHO Academy and its COVID-19 mobile learning app for health workers can be found at academy.who.int.

A Zoom webinar to introduce the app, with demos, explanations of key features, and a Q&A will be held on Thursday, 18 June at 16:30 GMT+2. Register here.

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