The World Health Organization (WHO) has turned to digital platforms to ensure that, despite travel restrictions, countries in the European Region continue to benefit from timely and tailored support to respond to Covid-19. WHO/Europe’s mission to Armenia is the first to take place virtually and follows approximately 60 Covid-19-related missions over the past two months to countries in the Region.
Experts from WHO/Europe, alongside the Robert Koch Institute, worked with Armenian health authorities on assessing the Covid-19 situation and offered advice on the strategy for easing Covid-19 measures. As part of this effort, 400 participants worked together in a virtual space over the course of two weeks.
Nine virtual sessions ran in thematic groups, with health personnel and technical partners willing to adapt and work through logistical challenges. Due to travel restrictions imposed in the wake of COVID-19, experts can no longer travel to countries to advise on public health, so they have embraced new ways of working.
Benefits to this style of working include no need for participants to wear personal protective equipment or, indeed, to travel to another country, as would usually be required by a mission or team of WHO experts supporting national authorities during a public health crisis. Dr Storozhenko highlights the response to this online WHO initiative as a great example of solidarity and goodwill.
Although this is the first remotely conducted technical WHO mission, the idea itself has been in the pipeline for some time. Those involved trust that their methods will also serve as a model for future country missions, highlighting best online practices whilst facilitating efficient knowledge transfer between WHO Europe and countries, both during and after COVID-19.