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AFRO-NETS> WHO Boosts Health Information via Internet

  • Subject: AFRO-NETS> WHO Boosts Health Information via Internet
  • From: Dieter Neuvians MD <neuvians@harare.iafrica.com>
  • Date: Tue, 5 Dec 2000 16:03:56 -0500 (EST)

WHO Boosts Health Information via Internet

Panafrican News Agency
December 5, 2000

Dakar, Senegal

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Open Society Institute
(OSI), a part of the Soros Foundation network, have teamed with lead-
ing information providers ISI and SilverPlatter, to provide access to
high quality scientific information, via the Internet, to research
centres in countries in Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

A WHO statement said Tuesday that other public and private partners
are involved in the project, while discussions are also under way
with Elsevier Science to join the initiative.

It said the pilot project is part of a wider UN programme called
"Health InterNetwork," which aims to improve global public health by
facilitating the flow of health information worldwide, using Internet

Based on the experience gained in the first pilot year, the partner-
ship will roll out, over five years, sustainable, affordable scien-
tific information packages to medical and health research institu-
tions in a large number of resource-strapped countries.

It is anticipated that by the end of year two, between 30 and 40
countries will have joined.

Research, and sharing the knowledge gained through its efforts, is
fundamental to improving public health.

"Valuable research is carried out in developing countries and emerg-
ing economies, but the researchers are hampered by not being able to
share essential scientific information and communication," said Gro
Harlem Brundtland, WHO Director-General.

"If the researchers and scientists can read the same journals, search
the same databases, join in the discussion groups, compete for the
same grants as their colleagues from wealthier countries, it will
strengthen their own research, bring them into the international com-
munity of researchers and eventually improve dissemination of their
own results," she added.

George Soros explains that through his Foundation he has "committed
significant resources to help bridge the digital divide. Now I want
to join forces with WHO and the world's leading scientific publishers
to help provide information to the health sector in emerging coun-
tries," the statement quoted him as saying.

The pilot phase will enable researchers, teachers and students at
leading research institutions in Armenia, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique,
Mongolia, Uganda, Tanzania and Uzbekistan to access top-of-the-line
international scientific information in digital format, and to inte-
grate the world scientific community through electronic communica-

The private partners and OSI are to organise comprehensive training
for research staff.

WHO, in collaboration with the UN, will discuss with service provid-
ers in the eight initial countries to provide high-speed connectivity
to the Internet.

"ISI is proud to participate in WHO's Health InterNetwork project,"
said Vin Caraher, Senior Vice-President Worldwide Sales and Market-
ing, ISI.

SilverPlatter's Chief Executive Officer Alex Sann also said he "(is)
extremely pleased and excited to be teaming with our existing busi-
ness partners and WHO/OSI on this important venture."

The digital divide in information is a new problem, requiring new ap-

WHO said "this multi-sector collaboration is breaking new ground
within the field of scientific publishing by making all concerned
parties including the users of the information, work in concert to
provide solutions that neither the public nor private sector will be
able to achieve on their own."

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