The World Health Organization is an agency of the United Nations, tasked with directing and co-ordinating healthcare worldwide. The WHO's importance has grown in recent years, with high-speed world travel making it increasingly difficult for any one nation to protect the health of its citizens. The WHO provides leadership in many areas, including setting standards and the prioritizing of healthcare and research initiatives.
WHO and Accreditation
The WHO, by its mandate, is deeply concerned with the quality of education given to healthcare providers. While a variety of related data are tracked by the organization, it does not provide "any form of recognition or accreditation to schools of medicine or other training institutions." Each UN member nation is responsible for its own accreditation criteria, either directly or through an appropriate professional body.
World Directory of Medical Schools
From 1953 until 2000, the WHO published a World Directory of Medical Schools. The last printed copy of this directory was published in 2000, after which it was migrated to the WHO's website where it is available for download. The 2007 edition is the most current available. Beginning with updates from the year 2008, the same data is now being tracked and stored by a new database project named "Avicenna," housed at the University of Copenhagen.
The project derives its name from the medieval Arab scholar and philosopher Avicenna (Westernized), or more correctly ibn Senna. A translator of many manuscripts from the ancient world and the Middle East, Avicenna perpetuated a large amount of learning that otherwise would have been lost to the West. Aside from his role in establishing the medical profession, his translations helped kindle the rebirth of Western scholarship known as the Renaissance. The Avicenna Project honors his role as a bridge between East and West.
The Avicenna Project is intended to provide a significant upgrade over the older directory, both in comprehensiveness and ease of access. A shorter update cycle, greater availability of information both in and out of the profession, improved opportunities for collaboration and greater transparency in the educational process are all potential areas of improvement. The project currently includes six partner organizations aside from the WHO and University of Copenhagen, and more are expected to join the project.
- Photo Credit united nations plaza, manhattan, nyc image by Albo from Fotolia.com
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