WiRED Celebrates 22nd Anniversary

Presenting a New Operating Model to Guide Programs


In 1997, WiRED International formed around the idea of improving the health of people living in the world’s most underserved communities. To enable us to pursue that ambitious goal, we embraced emerging technologies that would make it possible for us to teach people about good health. Although it wasn’t until years later that we adopted the catchphrase, we always subscribed to the belief that “community health begins with knowledge.”


Throughout our 22 years of health education, we have kept pace with the latest technology to deliver our programs free of charge to needy populations off the beaten path and often invisible to larger organizations.


When we started WiRED, when computers were new and unfamiliar, we set up “centers,” where we supplied computers and Internet links and trained our staff. Sometimes, in places without Internet connections, we brought in satellite equipment to link remote communities to the rest of the world. People would come to our centers to use the computers and to learn about good health. These technologies were brand new and the “Center” model was right for the time.


Over the years, with the evolution of technology, people became more familiar with computers. Many people, especially medical professionals, acquired their own equipment. While computers and the Internet were becoming more common, the technology was advancing at lightning speed. Computers became smaller, and their capacities expanded logarithmically. Soon, technology moved data from devices to the cloud, from plastic CDs to the Internet. Remember CD rentals at Blockbuster? Gone. Now we stream movies. And so, WiRED, like so many users of technology, moved data online and that includes WiRED’s 400+ health learning modules.


The benefits of expanding technologies and the high costs of supporting centers in low-resource regions led us to develop and implement our new model: WiRED would invest its resources in two areas: (1) the creation of health content (i.e., modules, animations) and (2) the development of innovative distribution tools (i.e., our Health Module Access Program, or HealthMAP).


What does our new model mean for day-to-day operations? It means that we no longer focus on physical centers. We have something much better. Now, we partner with nongovernmental organizations, medical schools and ministries of health. They provide the feet on the ground; we provide support, our evidence-based training material and the means of distributing it anywhere on earth.


This model has many advantages. First, it allows indigenous staff — people from local communities — to run the health training operations, which now are mostly outreach efforts. Using WiRED’s modules, the staff conduct health presentations in schools, in churches and at civic meetings. Local people adapt our material for local needs, and so health training becomes more relevant and effective. Second, because the marginal costs for each new user is near zero, and because distribution is simple, we can supply countless training facilities around the world with high-quality, professionally developed training courses.


As WiRED begins our 23rd year, we will continue to evolve our model and invest our scant resources (paraphrasing John Wesley) to provide as much health training material as we can, to as many people as we can, by all the means we can for as long as we can.







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