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AFRO-NETS> The Global Directory of Health Information Resource Centres

The Global Directory of Health Information Resource Centres


I am pleased to announce the publication of the first edition of the 
Global Directory of Health Information Resource Centres on

This is the first edition of the largest global listing of health in-
formation resource centres, with data pertaining to about 1,000 cen-
tres. The focus is on their missions and objectives, with particular 
reference to their attitudes to technology, and their capabilities 
and requirements. You may consult or download the entire Directory at 
the site, or just pick out letters of the alphabet to select coun-
tries that are of interest.

The Directory is an ongoing work, and will be updated. We aim to re-
fine the data, and invite all readers to suggest improvements and 
provide better information. There are questionnaires available on the 
site in English, French, Russian, Spanish, Swahili.

The Directory is a product of the Health Information for Development 
(HID) project, which was launched in January 2000 to compile the Di-
rectory. Support for this project was provided by the Bill and 
Melinda Gates Children 's Vaccine Program at the Program for Appro-
priate Technology for Health (PATH).

The project was the fruit of 18 months of intensive work among non-
governmental and international bodies. Discussions took place from 
early 1999 within the Health Information Forum (HIF), a bimonthly 
meeting uniting most of those active in health information develop-
ment in the UK, along with numerous international and regional or-
ganizations. The focus of discussion was the concepts of "Information 
Waystations" and "Staging Posts". Information Waystations bridge the 
digital divide - the focus is on bringing the technology to the de-
veloping countries and training people on how to use it to obtain 
health information. Staging Posts aim at bridging the information di-
vide - the focus is on adapting the information materials received in 
such a way as to make them more appropriate for local use.

With the stimulus of interest from a major donor, a draft project 
proposal was prepared covering Information Waystations and Staging 
Posts, which was reviewed at the first meeting of the HIF's Staging 
Posts Action Group (SPAG). Discussions went on through numerous meet-
ings and on an e-mail list (which has collected some 3,000 e-mail 
messages to date).

Finally, a plenary meeting of the Health Information Forum was held 
in London at the Royal Society of Physicians on 7 September 1999, 
chaired by Dr Richard Smith, Editor of the British Medical Journal. 
At this meeting, it was proposed that the initial research phase, 
geared at making an assessment of the real needs in the countries, 
should be treated as a separate entity. The Health Information for 
Development project was thus brought into existence. By November 
1999, PATH had agreed to fund the creation of the Directory as a 
first step.

The Health Information for Development project is seen as the initial 
needs assessment phase of the much-larger, $45m/GBP 30m Information 
Waystations and Staging Posts project, which aims to establish a 
global network of 1,000 health information resource centres that will 
provide locally appropriate content on health issues. We are cur-
rently looking for funding for various seed projects related to this 

Any comments would be welcome.

Chris Zielinski
Health Information for Development Project
P.O. Box 40
Petersfield, Hants GU32 2YH, United Kingdom
Tel: +44-1730-301297
Mobile: 797-10-45354 
Fax: +44-1730-265398

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