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.

Fostering an enabling environment


Creating an environment for the effective use of knowledge is vital to achieving WHO's mission. Implementing technical services, managing the complexity of our global operations, achieving our goals in countries – all depend on the capacity for learning, sharing, and using knowledge, within the Organization as well as in Member States. The fact that WHO's work takes place in the context of diverse settings, languages and cultures makes the communication skills underpinning these capacities even more important. There is a broad range of skills required to communicate effectively with our different audiences. Within the Organization, knowledge sharing and innovation is recognized as critical to the attainment of the goals of KM.

Action is required along several lines – culture change, capacity building, research and evaluation – towards creating an enabling environment for KM and support the strategic directions outlined above. First, while WHO and the field of public health can benefit from KM methods, the Organization's current practices do not easily accommodate KM. To better incorporate KM into public health practice, its relevance in promoting health and health equity must be made more evident, and KM methods must be further developed. Both WHO and Member States can benefit from strengthening the capacity to access, analyse, manage and use knowledge, with the goal of translating research and experiential knowledge into action, communicating for different audiences, improving communication, and learning in a myriad of ways. In all these areas, ICT is indispensable.


Strengthening WHO's capacity. WHO will build on the strengths of public health professionals, learning from best practice and developing partnerships with leaders and networks in KM. Within the Organization, KM will foster cultural change through training programmes and creating incentives for knowledge sharing WHO will establish the capacity to guide technical programmes, countries and others in the use of KM methods.

Advocating KM in the field of public health. WHO will convene global and local health communities to share experience and methods, and contribute to building KM capabilities and awareness. Research and evaluation are priorities, promoting through evidence and practice the benefits of knowledge sharing and translation. WHO will also conduct formal assessments in 2007 and 2010 and revise the M strategy and plan accordingly.

Implementing KM at country level. WHO will support countries develop and implement the scope of work for KM, supported by collaborating networks and partners, from select pilots to scaling up of appropriate systems and interventions. WHO will build KM capacity through context-specific education and training programmes, as well as by convening the best talent and resources of established organizations in ICT and other sectors, and civil society.