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AFRO-NETS> Providing Journals to Developing Countries (5)

  • Subject: AFRO-NETS> Providing Journals to Developing Countries (5)
  • From: "Ronald E. LaPorte from Pittsburgh" <RLAPORTE@vms.cis.pitt.edu>
  • Date: Mon, 17 Feb 1997 16:23:15 -0500

Providing Journals to Developing Countries (5)


Considerable progress has been made to open up the journals to developing
countries in just the past few weeks. Current the BMJ, Lancet, Annals of
Internal Medicine, the 10 Journals of the American Medical Association
(including JAMA), the 8 Canadian Medical Journals and another 50 Journals
at a major publishing company are considering making their journals
available. The Soros foundation in the US, the World Bank, and several
other groups are very interested in this as well. I have been surprised
as I thought we would have enormous difficulty in persuading the journals,
and I only approached a few initially, but they agreed almost

The approach is low bandwidth, in some areas it will be text only. We are
thinking of starting first with the medical libraries. I wanted to ask
your opinion about this. I will re-send (below) the letter which will
appear in the BMJ in the next few weeks, as I received excellent comments
from this lists...thank you all very much. If we are successful then
hopeful information will flow much more readily on health across the

ron laporte, ph.d.
director, disease monitoring and telecommunications
who collaborating center
professor of epidemiology
graduate school of public health
university of pittsburgh
pittsburgh, pa usa
e-mail: RLAPORTE@vms.cis.pitt.edu


This letter will appear in the next few weeks in the British Medical
Journal. We would appreciate your thoughts as to the best way to proceed
to bring epidemiologic/public health journals and all journals to
developing countries.

8 Feb., 1997


Patient: Developing Countries

Diagnosis: Information Deficiency

Prescription: An Internet Server with Targeted Access

The Internet is reaching developing nations and all major health and other
journals are moving onto the Internet. Soon full text articles will be
available through the Internet.at a price. However, the price is too dear
for developing countries. Moreover, journals are afraid that if their
works are freely accessible their paid subscription base will dry up.

There is a solution: a targeted access Internet server. Thus the
BMJ could be made available exclusively to Uganda, Bolivia, and Peru.. An
agricultural, psychology or chemistry journal might decide to target
Mongolia, parts of the Sudan, and Haiti.

Opening the door will permit information to flow from developing
countries as well. For example, developing countries represent over 25%
of the scientists in the world, but Medline revealed that the BMJ in
1992-1996 had only .4% of the publications mentioning "developing
countries", the Lancet, 0.6% NEJM 0.05%. Providing access and
communication with journals for scientists in developing countries will
likely increase the numbers, quality and speed of publication.

This system is secure. A person in London could not go
electronically to Rwanda to read Nature. Preparation cost is almost zero,
because most information is on line or soon will be. It is unlikely to
affect revenues, as the countries gaining access would be those to which
there are few if any subscriptions, and could in fact could build markets.
It is flexible, in that new countries could easily be added or deleted and
the type of information can readily be changed. Finally, and most
important, it is humane.

We have already contacted 10 leading journals in health, all
agreed to start the journals flowing to developing countries.

What information should be available? The journal and scientists
could decide what information is needed in the developing countries. A
second is to put as much information as possible onto the Internet as
costs are near zero. A third is to put everything up, and then evaluate
which information is "hit" the most.

The local researcher need not have full, high bandwidth web
capabilities. The journals can be read with text only. Alternatively the
feed could be to major libraries, with distribution by Xerox, fax, or even
word of mouth. The systems often exist, but little journal content flows
down the pipes.

The model of the targeted server will be available at
http://www.pitt.edu/HOME/GHNet/GHNet.html Within one year, the exchange of
journal information from developing and developed countries could move
from that of a trickle to a tsunami.

Global Health Network

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