Over 40 people attended the seminar “Information Access in the Developing World. Why Should We Care? How Does Research4Life Make a Difference”, by Kimberly Parker of the World Health Organization, held at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center on Tuesday September 6th. Kimberly’s talk was interspersed with video clips that shed light on the realities of limited access to the medical research literature and how the program she manages, HINARI, seeks to remedy the situation. As she pointed out, the spread of diseases is not limited by geographic boundaries so people everywhere must be able to use the most recent research to better manage diseases no matter where the outbreak.
HINARI is a complex international partnership that provides a significant body of the research literature from commercial and scholarly society publishers, combined with quality open access materials, for free to developing countries that qualify. This is a huge improvement over the situation in the past where the only materials available were old textbooks and outdated course notes. HINARI is one of four services in Research4Life, which collectively covers the medical, life, and environmental sciences, and technological innovation.
Following Kimberly’s presentation, Dr. Lisa Purvis of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice shared her experiences with the lack of access to information through her work in Tanzania. She noted the patience of the students in waiting for materials, and the need for educational materials as well as research materials. She emphasized that access to the research literature furthers the economic development of a country, enabling researchers and clinicians educated outside the country to continue their study, research, and clinical practice when they return to their home countries.
Faculty, students, and staff from the Dartmouth and DHMC community and visitors from the region engaged in a lively discussion following the presentations, with audience members sharing their particular experiences in information access to the developing world. Several librarians present have been part of teams working on health issues in developing countries. A theme throughout the seminar was the importance of expert librarians being available in developing countries to teach awareness and effective use of HINARI, and to consult on other aspects of information access and management.
The seminar was organized through the Open Dartmouth Working Group, and sponsored by the Dartmouth College Library and the Center for Health Equity at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. We appreciate all the assistance from the sponsors and from the Biomedical Libraries staff!