Knowledge management and health

Strategic directions

The following five strategic directions will contribute to the WHO-wide Expected Results. These results are achieved through delivery of a series of products and services at headquarters, regional and country level.

Improving access to the world's health information


Access to information and knowledge is inequitable, while information overload is widespread. Improving access to health information and knowledge is a core function of WHO, and is enshrined in the WHO Constitution. Despite decades of progress and the exponential growth in knowledge in public health, too many people worldwide do not have access to the information and knowledge they need to improve their health and quality of life, or to make informed decisions concerning the health and wellbeing of individuals, communities, and entire populations. This inequity may be for reasons of affordability, infrastructure, capacity to find and manage information, or simply because the relevant knowledge is not available in appropriate languages or cultural contexts.

At the same time, others are suffering from information overload as a result of the proliferation of new technologies and requirements to gather and maintain data and information. The ability to use this information is therefore limited due to lack of understanding about context, purpose or reliability. These information challenges are shared by a wide range of stakeholders: health professionals, policy makers, international development partners, and the general public. WHO serves all of these audiences, and is committed to the principle of equitable access to the world's health knowledge resources.


Making available and promoting access to relevant, targeted information products and services. WHO delivers on this mandate and responds to the needs of Member States by developing and providing high-quality, relevant, and timely information products and services at global, regional, and country levels in formats and languages according to needs. In addition to providing classical and electronic library services, other services include document repositories, statistical databases, libraries of media material, and access to diverse electronic products and information resources. KM policies, standards, and tools will guide the Organization's efforts in developing, targeting, and providing information and creating knowledge with the end-user in mind. WHO will engage the public health community as a strong advocate for more equitable access to the world's health-related knowledge.