E-DRUG: E-drug starts her 10th year with 2640 subscribers
Dear 2640 (english reading) E-druggers
E-drug will become 10 years this year - quite an achievement for an Internet
discussion group. Thanks to all of you for making this possible!
A quick look-back: the message below shows how E-drug started in February 1995.
Trying to find each other by email was the first priority. Moderators spent a
lot of time "finding" email addresses of colleagues interested in essential
drugs issues. For some time E-drug even had a public list of subscribers (no
spammers in those days...)
The choice for an off-line email system was clear in 1995 (we were using 1200
or 9600 baud modems - remember?), and "on-line" Internet was hardly available
in developing countries. Dial-up through bad phonelines was our life-line to
the world. Ten years later Internet access has improved, but is still expensive
to health care workers in rural areas in developing countries. True: some
health care workers have PDA's with wireless access, but they are few. Some
lucky ones have satellite dishes. The majority of E-druggers still work with
their email boxes and off-line email. So we won't change the principle of an
email list. E-drug did experiment with a website, but that required substantial
human and financial resources to maintain, which we didn't have (your E-drug
moderators work as volunteers!).
E-drug has been with SatelLife/Healthnet from the beginning, and we are
grateful for their continuous support. Thanks Leela, Holly, Balazs and
colleagues! Besides E-drug they are doing a lot more to promote access to
health care in developing countries; see http://www.healthnet.org/
French (E-MED) and Spanish (E-FARMACOS) language versions followed in 1998 and
2000. These discussion groups have their own character, as they serve different
communities. To support the creation of an international network of drug
information centres, INDICES was initiated in 1997. In 2002, INDIA-DRUG was
started to foster a national email discussion group on the rational use of
drugs. A Russian list (E-LEK) was also started. SATELLIFE staff and the
moderators of E-DRUG, E-MED, E-FARMACOS, and INDICES are willing to support
other regional or special interest groups.
The essential drug concept has hardly changed. It still stands! But so does the
main problem: still half of people in developing countries lack access to a
basic package of essential drugs. And it is not getting easier: new diseases
have emerged, and old ones are coming back with a revenge (antibiotic
resistance!). Information goes faster, but still needs human and financial
resources to act upon.
So what can we do? Your moderators have no option but to continue, as long as
you show an interest by submitting information and questions, and by
subscribing to E-drug...
On behalf of the other E-drug moderators (Hilbrand, Kirsten, Richard, Beverley,
Syed and Tim), I would like to wish you all the best for 2005. Let's work
together to make this a better world. People have a human right to essential
drugs, and we are capable to make a difference. E-drug is open to discuss how
to do it!
Wilbert Bannenberg, E-drug moderator
The 1995-2004 E-drug archives are at http://www.essentialdrugs.org/edrug/
(un)Subscribe E-drug at:
"E-drug, issue number 1, February 1995
To: all involved in essential drugs and accessible by email
Communication is a basis for development. Especially health
professionals in developing countries cannot afford telephone and
fax lines. Normal postal services are too slow and unreliable.
Simple computer networks offer affordable alternatives:
electronic mail. HEALTHNET provides free communication for health
workers in developing countries using computer lines and a low-
Health professionals interested in essential drugs, however, need
to find colleagues overseas who are willing to share information,
ideas and encouragement. An organised network of essential drugs
professionals did not yet exist in the Internet. As most people
in developing countries have only access to "offline" electronic
mail, an international directory of essential drugs related email
addresses was a first priority. For nine months I have been
collecting email addresses of health professionals involved in
essential drugs and possibly useful Internet addresses. The
result is attached.
In order to upgrade this list to a more professional level, your
active cooperation is needed.
Can you please inform me:
1. whether you agree to be on this list (we plan to distribute
this list only to non-profit, essential drug professionals. If
you do not like to be mentioned, please inform me!)
2. if you agree to stay on the list, please tell me how you would
like to be described (max 3 lines of text, please).
3. whether you are willing to help expanding the list, e.g., by
sending me all email addresses of people and institutions
(related to essential drugs) that you know, but who are not yet
listed on this list.
4. all your suggestions, ideas and criticism.
Please send your feedback to: email@example.com
Possible future developments could include:
- the launch of an ESSENTIAL DRUG LISTSERVER: this is a central
computer where you can send all your ideas, questions and
information by email message. The computer then automatically
sends your message to all people subscribing to the list (free
of charge). This technique enables health professionals in
developing countries with access to "offline" email to
participate actively in ongoing discussions. To see an example,
subscribe to the PHARMACY MAIL EXCHANGE to get the idea; this
LISTSERVER discusses mainly "northern" pharmacy problems in
developed countries, though. We need a separate discussion group
on essential drug topics is my opinion. Offers to "host" this
LISTSERVER are welcome (needs computer space and some moderation)
- the launch of an electronic Newsletter (current working title:
E-Drugs). This would be a centrally compiled Newsletter about all
aspects of essential drugs. Subscribe to PHNFLASH published by
the Worldbank to get the idea: the newsletter highlights new
reports, courses and jobs. Readers can request more information
or full copies of reports from the same computer by sending a
simple email message. I am willing to send such a Newsletter out
on an irregular basis, but it would need more resources to make
it a regular publication.
- further development of an Essential Drug WWW homepage, Gopher,
Bulletin Board or Essential Drug Database on the Internet. As
these can only be accessed by those of us with full "online"
Internet access, it might not be a first priority for developing
countries, though. Examples: try WHO/DAP at http://www.who.ch/
or the PHARMWEB at http://www.mcc.ac.uk/pharmacy/
All your suggestions are welcome at: firstname.lastname@example.org
[email address no longer valid! Use email@example.com]