UN health agency launches virtual school for public health information

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today launched the Health Academy, a virtual school that aims to promote public health around the world by teaching people health information using Internet-based technology.In a joint project with Cisco Systems, Inc., WHO has set up two pilot studies for the Health Academy in Egypt and Jordan, with teenage students in 41 schools, during the 2003-04 academic year. If they are successful, the Health Academy could be expanded around the world.The Health Academy will demystify medical practices and make the knowledge of health specialists available to everyone, WHO said in a statement released in Geneva, adding that the subjects in the Academy will feature language that all people can understand, regardless of their cultural backgrounds.WHO’s Director-General Dr Lee Jong-wook said: “It is more than just education; it is a means to influence attitudes and behaviour towards a healthier lifestyle, which in turn may help reduce gaps between prosperity and poverty and health and sickness.”WHO’s statement said the Academy’s curriculum would help students develop their critical thinking and encourage interactivity, thanks to technology provided by Cisco Systems.