In the 1980s and 1990s, PAHO actively contributed to the development of the concept of permanent education, its promotion in the countries of the Region, its inclusion in the design of educational interventions, and the evaluation of permanent education and training processes in health. In the year 2000, the Public Health in the Americas Initiative and the exercise to measure performance of the essential public health functions revealed deficiencies in human resources development and training in public health. This evidence led to an intensification of the search for a cooperation strategy for developing public health competencies of personnel in the services. This was the context for the emergence of the Virtual Public Health Campus (VPHC) initiative, which progressively integrated the concepts of permanent education and eLearning. Today, the VPHC represents the Organization’s principal line of action in encouraging and supporting the countries of the Region in the development of learning policies and plans, systems design for permanent education and learning networks, and the production and sharing of open educational resources, from the standpoint of promoting convergence. The Campus facilitates the development of opportunities for cooperation between the health authority and academic institutions for implementation of the learning plan. The VPHC makes intensive use of ICTs and the concept of distanceless education.
The VPHC as both a strategy and a technical cooperation tool offers an environment with a variety of resources for networked sharing and collaborative learning, helping health workers in the Region bring about changes in public health and primary care practices. To cite a few examples, the courses Leadership in Human Resources for Health and on Capacity Building for the Renewal of PHC, as well as the Diploma in Local Health and Development—all offered through the VPHC—have contributed to the creation of communities of practice whose members share resources and successful experiences, which in turn contribute to the improvement of practices at the local, state, and national level. Similarly, the Edmund Grand Ugalde Leaders in International Public Health Program has led to the creation of communities of practice in different areas of international public health, including access to medicines, the training of human resources with a PHC orientation, and the eradication of malnutrition.
The Virtual Campus facilitates the implementation of educational processes using different modalities and formats, including learning resources, self-guided courses, educational materials, and programmed and tutorial interactive courses; in addition to the interaction between groups and people from different contexts, regardless of distance. Thus, it facilitates the sharing of experiences and of tacit knowledge, access to sources of knowledge and to navigation through links, the use of a diverse communication and learning resources, and the development of virtual communities of practice for research and the updating of knowledge.
More information about the Virtual Public Health Campus click here.
Source: PAHO. CD50/11. 50th Directing Council. Washington, D.C., USA, 27 September – 1 October 2010