Providing journals to developing countries (3)
Dear Ronald LaPorte
I understand what Fred Bukachi in Nairobi is saying about SatelLife and
Healthnet - we have first-hand experience of the huge improvement it has
brought to the kinds of communication essential for health professionals,
information providers, and better health services; and we are immensely
indebted to the SatelLife organisation, and to the people in Boston and
Africa who bring us Healthnet.
At the same time, medical librarians in Africa know there are many
clinicians/researchers who get very frustrated at being unable to get
hold of *specific* journal articles - or at having to wait for weeks, or
pay a prohibitive price to get them, or both. In many medical schools and
hospitals there is *no way* of getting hold of specific journal articles.
The restricted access server for electronic journals for designated poor
countries (how about some or all of the 45 poorest listed in the World
Bank Annual Development reports?) sounds the most hopeful solution up to
now, for getting full text articles.
There still remain other serious deficiencies - textbooks for students,
access to MEDLINE and other databases, basic reference materials for
hospital doctors and nurses. The point is that there are gaps in every
kind of information in the poorest countries; thus every serious and
appropriate attempt to close even one of those gaps should be welcomed as
an addition to existing efforts, and as a contribution to the work of
Our experience here, in a national and academic medical library, shows us
that for our users, countrywide, access to journals from the North is as
important as access to local literature. All health professionals surely
have the right of access to the literature of their choice, whether from
North or South?
Deputy University Librarian,
University of Zimbabwe,
P.O. Box M.P. 45, Mount Pleasant
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