Virtual Health Sciences Library of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean

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					Virtual Health Sciences Library of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region:
Bridging the Knowledge Gap

What makes the gap
• Healthcare is an information–intensive sector that requires continuous flow of scientific and technical information for education, planning, monitoring and evaluation; • Health information is produced in abundance with very limited means to find the right information; • Health information is not available/accessible to majority of health professionals and citizens of developing countries.


• High rate of information and information technology illiteracy; • Week information and communication infrastructure.


The Mandate
• In 1978, the EMR RC Resolution on Regional Medical library recommended that: ―the Regional Director takes further steps for the consolidation of the resources and services of the WHO Regional Medical Library and the development of a viable Network for biomedical information‖

• Afghanistan, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen

The East Mediterranean Region

Morocco Libya


Syria Iraq Jordan Iran Afghanistan


Kuwait Pakistan United Arab Emirates Qatar Saudi Arabia Oman


Yemen Djibouti Somalia



The Approach
• National planning of national health information systems; • Development of resources-sharing networks for health sciences libraries and information centres on a national and regional basis; • Promoting of training of health sciences library personnel;

• Improvement of the bibliographic control of the health literature both at the Regional and the national levels; • Provision of library and information services in support of country health programmes; and, • Development and support of networking activities and eventual building of the EMR Virtual Health Science Library; • Development of information infrastructure at healthcare and medical education institution.

The Solution

Development and Maintenance of Bilingual Web Site
• The World Wide Web represents the fastest growing medium for dissemination of health information; • Arabic and English with potential to add more local languages; • It is used to provide health information for healthcare professionals, decision makers, and citizens; • It includes health topics and country profiles in addition to Regional Office information services and networks.



Development of the Virtual Health Sciences Library
• Developing information and telecommunication infrastructure; • Building of electronic collections in health sciences libraries; • Connecting libraries to the Internet; • Pooling of electronic resources.


World resources Regional Libraries and Information Centres Libraries in Health Care Institutions at the National Level



EMR Index Medicus: a tool for enhancing access to locally produced health literature
• Over 400 medical journals are published in the Region; • A few journals are indexed in international indexing and abstracting services such as MEDLINE; • A tool for south-north information flow; • Includes over 80,000 records from 18 countries.

Index Medicus for the Eastern Mediterranean
• • • • Started in 1987 to index 1984 articles; Continued as retrospective until 1998; Since 1999 it became current; The only in the world to include this information; • Journals increased from 70 journals to 320 now;


Publishing and Distribution Policy of the IMEMR
• Printed form of the Bulletin on a quarterly basis (500 copies); • The Bulletin is published on the RO Intranet; • Access through EMRO Web site on the Internet; • CD-ROM update on six monthly basis; • Special bibliographies upon request; • Distributed free in all cases.


EMRO Networks and Communities of Practice
• Connecting professionals through Listservs and collaborative workspace; • Discussion groups; • Networks and associations.




Union Catalogue of Medical Journals
• A central database of journals holdings of 40 medical libraries in the Region; • A memorandum of Understanding between institutions and the Regional Office; • A collection of 3500 journals titles with full details on each titles holding and libraries; • A document delivery service at no cost on participating libraries.


• is the use, in the health sector, of digital data—transmitted, stored and retrieved electronically—for clinical, educational and administrative purposes, both at the local site and at a distance.


EMRO e-Health Programme
• Consultation and assessment of needs; • Provision of training; • Logistics support for equipment and software; • Professional meetings and conferences; • Policy setting national planning.


Education and Training
• National training courses; • Conferences, professional meetings and Seminars; • Fellowships; • Internships.


Provision of health literature
• Free distribution of WHO and EMRO publications; • Provision of access to health information resources on the Internet; • Provision of electronic publications and databases.

Development of Systems and tools
• Development of the \unified medical Dictionary; • Arabicization of the International Classification of Diseases; • Arabicization of the National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Headings;

• Development of the EMR Medical Library Handbook in Arabic and English; • Arabicization of the library management software.



Mobile Health Libraries
• Reaching out to remote areas; • Health information at the district level.



Results and Statistics
• A budget allocation of over US$ 2,000,000 for Knowledge Management; • A network of over 250 libraries in the Region; • Training courses for health information workers in 10 countries of the Region; • Assessment of needs and evaluation for most of the countries of the Region;

• Substantial increase in number of participants in Listservs and virtual communities; • Twelve Regional Conferences over the last four years:
– Four conference on Virtual Library Network; – Four conferences on e-health and telemedicine; – Two conferences on medical publishing and translation; – Over 40 national training courses.

Future steps
• Forming of consortia for medical journals subscriptions; • Surveys on needs assessment and ereadiness in healthcare institutions; • Approach donors for support to health information access projects; • Expand the IMEMR to cover full text of regional journals.