Washington, D.C., August 1, 2013 (PAHO/WHO) —  Diabetes, health and human rights, and risk communication: these are a few of the topics that can be studied free of charge in online courses available through the Virtual Campus for Public Health (VCPH) of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO).

The courses, which are available online throughout the year, aim to improve public health practices through the use of information and communications technology. They are open to anyone interested, and in some cases the only prerequisite is enrollment at the Virtual Campus website.

The courses are offered in Spanish, English, and Portuguese, dealing with topics such as information sources and social networking, influenza, ethnic equality, and leishmaniasis. There is also a program on the issue of international and regional tobacco use and tobacco industry strategies.

Classes on research ethics are also accessible through a University of Miami program that aims to meet the highest institutional requirements for instruction in the various areas of research ethics.

Other courses offered by VCPH include gender and health, vaccines and the ProVac initiative, biostatistical methods and applications, measurement of health inequalities, and sustainable development and environmental health.

The entire process of course information, selection, and enrollment is carried out online. Students who successfully complete courses with a final evaluation will receive an online certificate.

PAHO's Virtual Campus for Public Health is a network of people, institutions, and organizations that share courses, resources, services, and activities in the area of education, information, and knowledge management. The Campus has nodes in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay, among other countries.

Since the Virtual Campus was launched in 2008, 32 self-learning courses have been offered, with 2,199 graduates as of the end of 2012. In 2013, 15 more courses of this kind have been started or are in preparation.

In addition to free and open courses, VCPH offers others with tutor support. Enrollment in these courses is managed through the PAHO/WHO Representative Offices in the countries concerned. VCPH also allows students to consult materials from courses they have completed previously. 

To access VCPH courses, visit this link.