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.

Translating knowledge into policy and action


Health inequalities persist despite known, effective interventions and steadily increasing investment in health research. Often, existing strategies do not solve local problems, in part because the necessary knowledge translation does not occur. The processes from knowledge generation to action are complex, and influenced by factors including stakeholder involvement, local context, perceived relevance, and the knowledge itself. Knowledge needs to be contextualized to be meaningful, which is why identifying and prioritizing needs of key audiences is essential. Clarification of the "know-do gap" is one step towards ensuring that research and knowledge generation will add value to health interventions and policies: We need to better understand these processes, or "value chains", which have so far been dominated by supply-driven models which assume that knowledge, once disseminated, is adopted.


Developing, using, sharing and promoting adoption of knowledge translation methods and social entrepreneurship. Ensuring that knowledge benefits the health of populations requires maximizing the impact of health research through community innovation and translation of research into policy and practice. To do so, WHO aims to characterize knowledge "value chains" more fully, and identify and promote good practices in knowledge translation. Identifying the needs of decision-makers is a fundamental aspect of this work. "Knowledge mapping" (assets, flows and gaps) in countries and organizations, will also be used as a means to guide KM work. WHO and partners will develop tools and methods as well as share good practices, with a view to scaling up knowledge translation efforts. With various target groups, the focus will be on promoting learning and creating knowledge through practice while providing strategic solutions to priority health problems.

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