The Avicenna Directory replaced the World Directory of Medical Schools, published by WHO since 1953, the latest edition appearing in 2000.
In 2007, WHO and the University of Copenhagen signed an agreement to transfer responsibility for the directories to the university, with WFME leading in the development of the Avicenna Directory, a web-based global directory of educational institutions. The Directory included all the information that was available in the final edition of the WHO Directory, with updates provided to WHO up to the end of 2007.
One aim was to include more than was possible in a book, in particular quantitative data about institutions and their programmes and about quality assurance tools in use, nationally and internationally for medicine. This information was been obtained by survey using a web-based questionnaire, and validated against other official sources of information.