HINARI Delivers Journal Access to Emerging Countries

This article from Kimberly Parker, HINARI Programme Manager of the World Health Organization, provides a glimpse into the worldwide healthcare initiative, HINARI.

by Kimberly Parker

Note to Readers
It is hard to imagine that researchers in the digital age lack access to the scientific literature that behavioral scientists and health professionals in the developed world value for research and practice. This article from Kimberly Parker, HINARI Programme Manager of the World Health Organization, provides a glimpse into the worldwide initiative, HINARI.

Imagine that in order to read any recent research you had to "order an article from some Francophone institute and wait for several weeks." This was the case just a few years ago in Senegal. Mohammed Jalloh, a urological surgeon at Hôpital Général de Grand Yoff in Dakar experienced just this. "Scientists and clinicians could not publish just because they couldn't access the scientific literature."

Then in 2002, the HINARI Access to Research in Health programme became available to the least developed countries in the world, and access to the scientific literature began to change.

HINARI "is providing up-to-date, evidence-based scientific information and revolutionising the way healthcare is being delivered in our country and the rest of the developing world. It is helping us to put life into the days of patients and not days into their lives," says Dr. John Weru, a senior medical officer who specializes in palliative care at Kenya's Nairobi Hospice.

The seed for the worldwide initiative came from a need that was expressed during a World Health Organization (WHO)-led workshop. Developing country researchers "agreed that without access to top quality, timely and reliable information of the kind exemplified by the major journals, it is very difficult to do quality research or train researchers." 1

The seed was planted and an idea grew. With the Internet, publishers could make scientific literature available to the developing world free more easily, when making printed materials available was less feasible. 2

In July 2001, WHO and six major biomedical publishers joined forces in the HINARI partnership. The partnership rapidly expanded in terms of countries, publishers, and journal titles. HINARI launched initially in 69 countries, with almost 1,500 journals from the initial six publishers.

Now HINARI is available in over 100 countries, and more than 7,000 journals are offered by 180 publishers. In addition to journals, HINARI offers 5 databases and 40 reference works in biomedicine and related social sciences.

Psychology is one of the major topical areas where the HINARI users can browse for relevant journals. At this moment, HINARI lists 222 psychology journals. The largest subject category in HINARI is General Medicine with 465 journals, and the smallest is Ethics with 5.

WHO worked with participating publishers to develop a two-tier approach to access, based on GNI per capita. The first tier gives countries free access; the second tier provides access for a nominal fee.

The users in developing countries are at the heart of the programme. Over 4,100 institutions have registered to gain access to the content through HINARI, and the number continues to grow at a steady pace.

In addition to enabling access to the biomedical literature for institutions in developing countries, HINARI also provides training in using and working with the wealth of medical content that is now available to the institutions. Training modules in multiple languages are available on the web site, and training courses are held throughout the world. This is a key component of the program, because just turning on access does not ensure that people are comfortable winnowing the information for what is truly useful in their own work.

HINARI usage is rising slowly and steadily. The lack of high speed information technology infrastructure poses a barrier for much of the world. As more of the developing world gains access to broadband, scientists should be equal partners at the table in the international scientific community. HINARI is helping to bring that about.

References

1. Aronson, Barbara; Glover, Steve. "Journal Access Initiatives: Where Are They? Why the World Health Organization? And What Is HINARI?" Serials Review 2005;31:279–283.

2. Godlee, Fiona; Horton, Richard; Smith, Richard. "Global Information Flow," BMJ 2000;32:776–777.