WHO Scholar programme impact evaluation (2016-2018)

The evaluation was performed between January and June 2019. It was led by Dr Karen Watkins with contributions by Dr Wendy Green and Ian Steed.

The impact evaluation had three components, each with a specific goal:


Measure levels of use to determine the extent to which WHO Scholars have been able to apply what they learned and implement projects that started in a course.


Analyze the impact of WHO Scholars who reported that they implemented their projects or applied what they gained in courses.


Evaluate the significance and potential of peer support and volunteerism in the Scholar programme.

What did the evaluation find?


Scholars reported extraordinarily high levels of use of what they gained from the programme.


Scholars who implemented course projects reported that they contributed to increase in immunization coverage.

Here are a few examples:

Community health workers were able to locate and vaccinate 99% of the children who were lost to follow up.

Geographical equity improved, with a new system implemented in 4 of 23 regions with a plan to roll out it the remaining regions.Regions where it has been implemented are now among the high performing districts and regions.  DTP containing vaccine coverage in PDHS 2012-13 was 76% and now (PDHS 2017-18) is 89%.

A vaccination programme for immigrants increased screenings, improved provision of vaccines (including flu and hepatitis), and led to higher numbers of vaccinations for highly susceptible hospital patients.

Community leaders came on board, including those who were initially against vaccinations.Vaccination rates in these hard-to-reach districts is now at 37%.

Measles coverage that had remained steady at 52% for almost two decades increased to 80%.


Following each course, more than half of the participants volunteer to support the next cohort. This dynamic has fostered the development of informal, self-led and motivated country-based groupings of professionals operating across agencies may provide a different kind of lever for systemic change than traditional top-down approaches to addressing immunisation challenge

In March 2019, 37 senior and mid-ranking immunisation professionals from government and partners in Nigeria came together to discuss how their country’s Data Improvement Plan could be improved and better implemented. But this wasn’t an inter-agency conference. The group was meeting outside of their normal work routines, and on a voluntary basis.

Three months earlier, participants had all completed the WHO Scholar course on data improvement planning. They were convened by one of their number anxious to ensure that the pedagogical focus of the courses on real-world implementation and learning did not stop with individual application of learning, but also had impact at systemic level.


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Gift Ettentuk, National Consultant, WHO Nigeria

What is the Geneva Learning Foundation doing with these findings?

Without any support, Scholars have been able to achieve significant impact. Imagine what they might be able to do by working together, with the right support from partners?

The Foundation launched in July 2019 the first Impact Accelerator, a system to achieve impact faster, better, and together.