International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications

Newsletter
No. 14, May 2000

In this issue:

Newsletter Editors:
Ard Jongsma
Neil Pakenham-Walsh (INASP-Health section)

Contributors to this issue: Irati Antonio, Don Long, Catherine Nyaki Adeya, Diana Rosenberg, Pru Watts-Russell, Hans Zell, Chris Zielinski.

Editorial address:
INASP
P.O. Box 2564
London W5 1ZD
UK


 

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About INASP


INASP is a co-operative network of partners whose aim is to enhance
world-wide acess to information and knowledge. It has three immediate
objectives:

- to map, support and strengthen existing activities promoting
access to and dissemination of scientific and scholarly information
and knowledge;

- to identify, encourage and support new initiatives that will
increase local publication and general access to high quality
scientific and scholarly;

- to promote in-country capacity building in information production,
organisation, access and dissemination.


INASP is a programme of the International Council for Science (ICSU).

Chairman: Kai-Inge Hillerud
Director: Carol Priestley



Addresses:

INASP
WWW: www.inasp.info

and also:

Co-publishing
Practice, potential and problems in SE Asia and the Pacific

Co-publishing is a way of sharing some of the expenses involved in the publishing process. The gains can be considerable, particularly with publications that have a large audience, such as school books. But publishing the same educational materials across different countries, languages and cultures has its own pitfalls.

The Asia/Pacific Co-publication Programme, run by the Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU) is a good example of an international initiative aimed at making regionally produced educational materials available to a large audience of young readers.

In a very practical article on pages 2 and 3, Don Long, the programme's representative in New Zealand and contributor to the programme's ecological series, describes how ACCU has tackled the various problems encountered since the programme started in 1991.

The Asia/Pacific Co-publication Programme

UNESCO is involved in a number of different publishing programmes. Many involve regional co-operation. A good example is the Asia/Pacific Co-publication Programme (ACP). It is run by the Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU). Since 1991 this has been one of their Asia/Pacific Cooperative Programme in Reading and Book Development activities.

The programme had its origins in a regional meeting of Asian publishing specialists held in Tokyo in 1966. They decided to do something about the shortage of books in Asia, where half the world's population lives. The Tokyo Book Development Centre began the project, originally calling it the Common Reading Materials for Children in Asia Programme.

In 1971 the Tokyo Book Development Centre became the ACCU and the Common Reading Materials for Children in Asia Programme became the ACP. With the inclusion of three Australasian countries (Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea) the ACP came to involve twenty-one countries. In the future, it is hoped to include some of the Asian republics of the former Soviet Union and some of the island states of the Pacific. In the thirty-five years since the programme began, twenty-eight anthologies have been published.

Masters in English

To date, the three Australasian countries have only supplied contributions and editorial expertise. The eighteen Asian countries have produced local language copies of project books. English is the lingua franca of the programme. ACCU publishes master versions in English. It then facilitates the publication of local language versions:

  • through its network of national agencies in participating countries, who undertake the publication of local language versions themselves or sub-licence the work to publishers;
  • by providing financial support for the printing of local language versions;
  • by making payments to contributors to cover translation rights;
  • by making positive films available to the publishers of the local language versions.


The national agencies are typically publishers' associations (as in China), national commissions for UNESCO (as in Vietnam), or educational publishers (as in Nepal). In Vietnam, for example, the Vietnamese National Commission for UNESCO sub-licences the work to Kim Dong, a government-owned educational publishing company. In New Zealand, Learning Media, a government-owned educational publishing company, is itself the national agency.

Themes

The 28 anthologies published so far (in almost 40 Asian language) include collections of folktales, short stories, and children's games - and, in recent years, collections of stories and articles built around ecological themes (e.g. soil, water, trees, and sunlight). To give some idea of the numbers involved, over 50,000 copies of a publication called Trees have been published in Thai alone.

The most recent planning meeting was held in Tokyo in February 2000. Representatives from fourteen of the 21 countries involved took part. A decision was made to publish a fifth ecological collection looking at the topic of air. But the decision was also made to publish an anthology of stories for 8 to 11 year-olds on the theme of peace and tolerance first, so this fifth ecological collection is unlikely to appear before 2002. If it is at all like the first four ecological collections (The Earth, The Sun, Water, and Trees) it is likely to be 64 pages long, 182 x 257 mm (B5) in size, full colour, square back bound, with a recommended retail price of US$14, and it is likely to be aimed at 10 to 14 year-olds, as the first four ecology collections
are.

No hard-and-fast rules

Listing a recommended retail price is somewhat misleading. While in some countries local language versions are sold, in other countries copies are given away free to schools. There is no hard-and-fast rule about this, though contributors do not receive royalties on sales, which implies that the underlying assumption is that contributors receive a payment to cover free distribution (in translation in a substantial number of Asian languages).

Problem areas

The four ecological collections published so far have thrown up some difficult issues.

1. Up to now, the Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO has tended to rely on the national agencies to edit the material they supply. In an article from Japan called 'What Is Solar Energy ? ' written originally by Keiko Niimi in Japanese and then translated into English for the master version of The Sun by Tamami Takiguchi, there were scientific errors. The greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, for example, was misidentified as carbohydrate. This highlights a production issue. You can't really edit a scientific publication completely by committee. Ultimately, an editor needs to assume the responsibility for checking all the material before it goes to press.

2. A general anthology designed to meet the needs of young readers in a wide number of different countries faces an almost insurmountable problem. It is unlikely that it will ever meet the precise needs of the curriculum in any one country. But that does not mean that regional co-publications of scientific reading material for children cannot help address the need for more reading material in countries (and languages) that desperately need more books. This programme clearly addresses that need in a very practical, down-to-earth way.

3. The anthologies attempt to involve as many countries as possible. The quality of the contributions has occasionally been compromised, though, in this effort to include contributions from the widest possible cross-section of countries.

4. Successive planning meetings have worried that too much of the material in the four ecological collections published to date have been ecology-related folktales, and not enough of hard science. This, in turn, has led to a further difficulty. Some of the folktales have touched upon aspects of local cultures regarded as unacceptable in other societies - to the extent that some countries have felt unable to publish local language versions of some of the ecological collections. This is an unusual cultural problem for a scientific publication for children to confront and it highlights the difficulties of publishing regionally across cultures.

Despite the difficulties encountered, the Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO's Asia/Pacific Co-publication Programme remains one of the most successful programmes of its kind. It puts many thousands of copies of full colour scientific children's books by local authors (in a wide range of Asian languages) into thousands of schools in economies where that otherwise might not happen.


For more about the programme, email:

or write to:
The Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO
6 Fukuromachi
Shinjuku-ku
Tokyo 162-8484
Japan


This article was written by Don Long, the Pacific Publisher at Learning Media - and the Asia/Pacific Co-publication Programme's representative in New Zealand. His article Ozone Holes and Sun Hats can be found in The Sun. He can be contacted at:

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Internet Travelling
Workshops

The workshop programme on 'Using the Internet', which is currently travelling between African university libraries, has been featured in the two previous INASP Newsletters. The third workshop in the series took place at University of Zambia Library in March 2000 and plans are under way for the Balme Library at the University of Ghana, Legon to host the fourth workshop in June 2000.

For those readers interested in studying the content of the workshops, INASP has now loaded the course materials on its Web site: www.inasp.info/lsp/internet Access is free, although users are asked to complete a registration form (so that usage can be monitored) and abide by the copyright regulations. The course materials available are those provided for participants: daily timetables, slide presentations, handouts and exercises. Not included are those materials specifically aimed at the facilitators, e.g.
daily guidelines, lecture notes, etc.
INASP
programme support
updates


African Journals Online: Evaluation and Expansion

The May 1998 issue of INASP Newsletter recorded the launch of the pilot project of African Journals Online (AJOL). It aimed to promote the awareness and use of African-published journals in science and technology, by offering access to tables of contents or the full text of journals via the Internet. Since then, the pilot project has been evaluated and a greatly expanded AJOL is due for re-launch in mid-2000.

The evaluation of the two-year pilot project was completed in January 2000. (Copies of the report are available on request to INASP.) Key conclusions are:
  • the existence of AJOL has heightened the awareness of African-published journals and increased their visibility;
  • as yet, the existence of AJOL has not brought about increases in the number of journal subscriptions or extra finance for journals through the sale of journal articles;
  • to be effective, publicity for AJOL needs to be ongoing, not just a one-off promotion;
  • the value of AJOL would be enhanced if more journal titles and article abstracts were included and if journals maintained a regular schedule of publication;
  • it is difficult to evaluate the impact of Web projects on the end user. Tools need to be developed.

With the assistance of funds from NORAD, INASP will launch a fully expanded AJOL programe in mid-2000. Features of the new service include:

  • an increase in the number of science and technology journals to 25;
  • the addition of 30 medical journals and 15 in the social sciences;
  • abstracts of articles or links to Web sites where abstracts are available;
  • links to full text, if available on the Web;
  • an article photocopy service;
  • a facility to search the AJOL database by key word.

African Journals Online is accessible at: www.inasp.info/ajol


Regional Professional Library Associations
University libraries in the 21st century

An outline of this support programme was given in the November 1999 Newsletter.

The Standing Conference of African University Libraries Western Area (SCAULWA) met in Accra in November 1999.

Six papers were presented on the theme University Libraries in the 21st Century and the proceedings of the conference are being prepared for publication. The Association was successfully relaunched and an Executive Committee elected and charged with the implementation of a two year programme. This includes a bi-annual Newsletter to keep members in touch with each other and two activities to be completed before the next meeting: a Directory of University Libraries in West Africa and a Survey of Technology Adoption by University Libraries in West Africa. The next meeting will take place in 2001 in Ghana with the theme 'Networking for Resource Sharing in University Libraries in West Africa'.

The sister association to SCAULWA, the Standing Conference of African National and University Libraries in East, Central and Southern Africa (SCANUL-ECS) met in Windhoek, Namibia on 10 and 11 April 2000. The theme of the meeting was sustainable funding of African national and university libraries and 44 participants from 18 countries attended. Of these, 23 were supported by INASP.

During the previous SCANUL-ECS in 1998, a recommendation was made that SCANUL-ECS should develop the capacity to conduct a study on sustainable financing in the region and make information available to member libraries. The research was undertaken by Kay Raseroka of University of Botswana and Diana Rosenberg of INASP. Entitled 'Library Incomes: A Survey of African University Libraries in the SCANUL-ECS Region', the research was presented at the meeting, along with other papers. Librarians were urged to recognise that they must actively search for additional sources of funding rather than rely on subventions from the parent body and should prepare business plans. Case studies of libraries where successful income generation had taken place were commissioned. SCANUL-ECS agreed to appoint a consultant to assist in developing common guidelines and standards in the areas of income generation. Further training for librarians in financial management and advocacy strategies was considered very important for the future of library funding.


Public Libraries in Africa
A report and Annotated Bibliography

Over the past ten years much has been written in the professional press about the state of and role for public libraries in Africa. The overall impression has been one of declining budgets and failures in established public library services. In the midst of this overall trend, however, there have been some notable achievements in alternative and innovative approaches to the provision of a public library service in Africa.

Public Libraries in Africa: A Report and Annotated Bibliography provides an analysis of these trends, based on literature reviews of recent publications and reports from selected countries in Africa.

The study that resulted in the compilation of this book is a first step in a process being undertaken in order to initiate a programme to revitalise services to the public so that they can fulfil their role of providing relevant information to the majority of the population. Without access to this information, the people will not be empowered to participate in the development that is necessary for the improvement of their living standards.

The book comes with an extensive annotated bibliography and country reports. The information provided in these is drawn together into a short synthesis report which summarises the overall position of public library services and proposes directions in which services to the public should be moving. A short additional literature review is also included.

The consensus of opinion arising from the study is that African librarians need to rethink what a public library service is all about. Public libraries in Africa need to be more aggressive and introduce services that are attractive to their users. Librarians must get to know their potential users, and not automatically assume that they are simply students and school children who use a library only for study purposes.

The introduction of alternative services, and a balance between the services offered to urban and rural populations, are areas requiring particular attention. The report suggests that long-term realistic strategic plans are required for public library development. Such plans should be prepared on a country basis and should be founded on professionally conducted user-needs and user-satisfaction surveys.


Issak, Aissa
Public Libraries in Africa: A Report and Annotated Bibliography.
Oxford: International Network for the Availability of Scientific
Publications (INASP), 2000. 199p.
ISBN 1 902928 00 8
Price: £15.00 + p&p.

The publication can be ordered from INASP. A limited number of complimentary copies is available for libraries in Africa.

Work in Progress

A Selected Review of ICT Related Studies/Projects in sub-Saharan Africa:
1990-2000

by Catherine Nyaki Adeya



One of the key by-products of this period of rapid technological development and the on-going information revolution is incessant change. This transformation - which embodies social, economic, political, technical and cultural processes - is affecting nearly all economies and creating tremendous challenges and opportunities in its wake. African countries will not be and have not been spared, although there is still concern that the gap with the rest of the world is increasing. Within this context, there are many studies and initiatives concerned with ensuring that African countries are prepared to meet the challenges of this information age and the key seems to revolve around access to ICTs and ICT policy development in general.

With all the noise surrounding the potential of ICT for Africa's development, where is the evidence? Are ICTs actually changing the 'shape' of Africa? Do the findings from past studies support the policy advice being given to African governments? The researcher is not intending to provide an exhaustive analysis of initiatives and research on ICTs in sub-Saharan Africa (though there are some from other parts of the continent) but to attempt to synthesise the work that has been done in this area, to give flavour and show the types of studies being conducted and to justify further empirical research.

 

INASP-HEALTH UPDATE Go to top
About
INASP-Health

INASP-Health is a co-operative network created by health information providers, for health information providers. Its goal is to facilitate co-operation across the health information community towards universal access to reliable information for healthcare workers in developing and transitional countries.

The network currently involves more than 600 participants, North and South, representing non-governmental organisations, international
agencies,
library services, publishers (print and electronic), and others.
Visit our website at:
www.inasp.info for further information about our range of services
and activities.

We welcome all those who are willing to share their experience and
expertise with others to improve access to reliable information.
Participation is free of charge and without obligation. Please write
to:

Dr Neil Pakenham-Walsh Programme Manager
INASP-Health
27 Park End Street
Oxford OX1 1HU
UK

compuserve.com

WWW: www.inasp.info

We are grateful to the following organisations for their support:

- British Medical Association
- Danida
- Department for
International Development (UK)
- CDSI (ICSU-Press)
- World Health Organization

Health Information Forum (HIF)

Workshops during 1999-2000 have included:

  • HIF7: Staging Posts and Information Waystations. This generated lively debate on issues of connectivity and content, and demonstrated the potential of HIF as a 'neutral space' to identify strengths and weaknesses in individual project proposals (see Chris Zielinski's article on the following pages);
  • HIF8: Cooperation with WHO and DFID (see below);
  • HIF9: Monitoring and evaluation of health information activities (see EVAG below);
  • HIF10: Fundraising for Health Information Activities.

Forthcoming meetings include:

  • HIF11: Annual Open Forum (May 30, British Medical Association, London);
  • Working Together (International Congress of Medical Librarians, London, July 3);
  • HIF12: Review and Way Forward (BMA, July 6). Full proceedings of all HIF meetings are posted at www.inasp.info.

EVAG

'Monitoring and evaluation' is the topic for the latest HIF action group. The group, known as EVAG, is exploring key aspects of evaluation that are likely to be of interest to HIF participants and others. A second aim is to identify areas for possible collaboration. As the email discussion builds, there will likely be a series of meetings to draw out some of the key issues. If you would like to be involved in the discussion, please contact Andrew Chetley at Healthlink Worldwide


Cooperation with WHO

INASP-Health is currently acting as a facilitator to promote strategic and practical co-operation between WHO and other organisations involved in health information, using the Health Information Forum as a neutral tool. Our immediate objectives are:
1. To identify areas in the information activities of WHO and other organisations (specifically individual HIF participants) where there may be opportunities for partnership.
2. To provide a brief informal description of current activities, priorities, gaps, and relative strengths of WHO and other health information organisations (with a particular focus on HIF participants). It is hoped this description will serve both to identify opportunities for partnership and as a basis for developing a more long-term shared understanding of information priorities and activities, and a more coherent overall approach to health information. Further details are on the INASP web site and your input is encouraged. A report will be published later this year and will serve as a baseline to guide future activities.

HIF-Net at WHO

In collaboration with WHO, INASP-Health will shortly be launching an email discussion list relating to issues of health information access worldwide. The list will be called HIF-Net at WHO and the address (for postings to the whole list) is hif-net@who.int. To subscribe to the list, please email: health@inasp.info and in the message box give your name, organisation, and (if you have not previously submitted one) a brief description (one paragraph) of your interest in health information - your HIF participant profile. We will then add you to the list and you will receive a welcome message. For an auto-information sheet, send an email to
, leave the subject line blank, and in the message box type: info hif-net

UK Health Communications Partnership

As reported in the last issue of the Newsletter, INASP-Health has for several months been involved in helping to develop a DFID-funded programme to support and promote co-operation across the UK health communications sector: information for healthcare workers, social marketing, and public awareness and debate. We are delighted to report that Healthlink Worldwide will host the new Programme. INASP-Health will continue to focus on information for healthcare workers and will work closely with the Programme to achieve our common goals.

For further information, contact Andrew Chetley at


Health Information for Development and
Information Waystations and Staging Posts

Chris Zielinski describes two connected information projects.


Information projects are notoriously difficult to fund and establish. Once they are established, they are very difficult to sustain after the life-giving cash current is switched off. Information projects tend to be based on resources that need to be renewed - journal subscriptions, books, and Internet connection charges. Staff wander off when their salaries cannot be paid. Telephones and electricity are switched off, and with them the entire bright edifice of modern technology. Computers fizzle out into the dim bulbs that they really are - no lights, no cameras, no action.

It should immediately be said that there are very many information centres in existence in the health sector. Even though information tends not to be given high priority, it continues in community health centres, as small, underfunded libraries in teaching hospitals or research institutions, often as a side-function in centres principally devoted to other things.

Above all, the scale of most information projects in developing countries is small. These centres are one-offs, and require considerable administrative burden on the part of the funding body, whether it is an international, non-governmental or governmental organization. Very few of them are self-sustaining.

With this perspective, it may therefore seem unpardonable audacity to propose the launch of the largest project to strengthen health information resource centres (HIRCs) throughout the developing world. And yet this is what the Health Information for Development project heralds.

Health Information for Development was launched in January 2000, after considerable discussion conducted through the Health Information Forum (see proceedings of HIF8 at www.inasp.org) and email discussion lists such as AFRO-Nets and AHILA-Net. It aims to compile a Global Directory of Health Information Resource Centres by August 2000, working with a wide range of partners throughout the world. Funding for the project has been provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Children's Vaccine Program at PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health). Philanthropic and in the public domain, the project is managed by Chris Zielinski, a former Director of Health and Biomedical Information at WHO.

Health Information for Development is seen as the first phase of the much-larger, US$45 million Information Waystations and Staging Posts project, which aims to establish a global network of 1000 HIRCs that will provide locally appropriate content on health issues. The project is intended to reinforce existing health services and education systems, not replace them. We believe that the very size of the project will render it more able to attract sustainable funding, much as international organisations do. Funding is currently being sought for this 5-year project.

In the second phase, we will upgrade selected HIRCs into Information Waystations (IW) and create a network. An Information Waystation is a local point of access to health information received electronically. It has a PC, CD-ROM and databases, printer, modem, reliable satellite or land telephone, and prepaid broadband Internet access. It is linked to the network of other IWs, and shares information with other IWs in a two-way flow. It has personnel who are trained in/teach technical maintenance and database use.


In the third phase, we will select some IWs for upgrading into Staging Posts (SPs). Staging Posts will act as 'relay stations', translating and adapting information materials in order to make them locally appropriate. They will distribute information rapidly and widely, linked to health and education initiatives. They will make use of appropriate external sources of information, particularly prototype publications provided electronically, as well as sharing local information, both formal and non-formal/indigenous, in a two-way flow. They will have personnel who are trained in/teach adaptation techniques.

At present, we are distributing questionnaires to 'intermediary organisations' (which support HIRCs) and to the HIRCs themselves. We would welcome enquiries connected with filling in these questionnaires (also available on our website at
www.iswp.org ). These questionnaires have been elaborated with input from a 35-person Project Advisory Board. Policy issues are considered by the Board, as well as by a grouping of funding bodies and international organisations constituted into a Policy Advisory Council. Council members include foundations (Gates/PATH, Open Society/Soros), international organisations (ECA, Third World Academy of Sciences, WHO, UNDP, UNFPA) and others (British Council, British Telecom).

With a clear expression of the needs for such capacity building expressed in the Directory, we trust to secure the funding to make the long-cherished dream of a sustainable network of health information resource centres throughout the world a reality.

Chris Zielinski
Director, Health Information for Development Project


Access to reliable drug information in resource poor countries

A prerequisite for rational prescribing, dispensing and safe drug use

By Neil Pakenham-Walsh (INASP-Health) and Philippa Saunders (Essential Drugs Project)

'The rational use of drugs demands that the appropriate drug is prescribed, that it is available at the right time at a price people can afford, that it is dispensed correctly, and that it is taken in the right dose at the right intervals and for the right length of time. In addition, the appropriate drug must be effective, and of acceptable quality and safety.' WHO 1987

Rational prescribing and use is a vital principle in all healthcare systems. In resource-poor countries - where health spending might be less than 10 dollars per person per year - cost-effective use of drugs is important not just for the individual patient but for the viability of the health system as a whole.

However, protagonists of rational prescribing in developing countries are struggling to make themselves heard, and the rational use of drugs is neglected in schools of medicine, nursing and even pharmacy. In many countries, the sociocultural, professional and regulatory environment works against the safe and prudent use of medicines. For
example:

  • there may simply be no relevant, up-to-date, comparative information available, or, if there is, such information may be unaffordable, or it may not be used
  • there may be no national drugs policy supported by legislation and a functioning regulatory authority - an essential drugs list, up-to-date national formulary, and therapeutic guidelines may not exist
  • rational use of drugs may be excluded from the pre-service training curriculum and continuing medical education of doctors and other prescribers - drugs are commonly prescribed by nursing staff in many health services; their education, too, requires that there is access to appropriate information and training
  • prescribers may be reliant on, or have become used to, free information provided by individual pharmaceutical companies - as one colleague has put it: 'Drug companies offer inducements to prescribe their products to doctors virtually as soon as they enter medical school, a practice that continues throughout their professional careers.'

It is tempting to point a finger at the pharmaceutical industry, whose promotional practices can encourage the over-use of drugs, as well as sales of drugs that are inappropriate and unnecessarily expensive. We should expect companies to provide consistently reliable information about their products. However, it is the responsibility of governments and health professionals to ensure that comparative information is produced and distributed, and to provide a context which supports the safe, effective and economical use of drugs. In countries where self-medication, even with prescription drugs, is a fact of life it is essential that information for consumers is usable (performance tested) and complete.

In the United Kingdom a variety of agencies operate international schemes with the aim of improving access to reliable drug information in developing countries. These include:

  • The Pharmaceutical Press is currently developing a CD-ROM that gives step-by-step guidance on how to write a formulary.
  • The International Society of Drug Bulletins (ISDB) supports independent drug bulletins worldwide.
  • The Commonwealth Pharmaceutical Association and Book Aid International together distribute thousands of used and new copies of the British National Formulary and Martindales to developing countries through a scheme called Pharmaid.
  • Teaching-Aids at Low Cost (TALC) includes the BNF in its catalogue at a special low price, with the agreement of the publishers - the Pharmaceutical Press and the BMJ Publishing Group.
  • Practical Pharmacy, a training newsletter which addresses the needs of district and sub-district pharmacy staff and prescribers is sent free to several thousand recipient organisations. WHO'S Essential Drugs Monitor is also obtainable free.
  • Specialised electronic discussion networks, notably E-Drug and INDICES, facilitate exchange of information, and are available to anyone with access to email.
  • The World Health Organization's web site site is a good source of pharmaceutical information and the WHO Model List of Essential Drugs can be found there. An online formulary will shortly be available.


What next ?

Much is already being done by a range of organizations, but there is little evidence that international efforts are having the impact they should at a global or national level. The task ahead is formidable but achievable and will require concentrated effort, better cooperation, and also resources.

As access to electronic media improves, the potential for obtaining necessary drug information via CD-ROM, e-mail, and web-sites will increase. However, while information technology offers great opportunities, print media will for some time continue to be the only means of access for many end users.

All efforts to improve access to information must harmonise with national essential drugs policies, national formularies and therapeutic guidelines and improved education for consumers as well as prescribers. Drug information specialists in developing countries need access not only to information, but also to professional support, equipment, standards and guidelines, and training. Meanwhile, better indicators are needed to demonstrate the impact of irrational prescribing on the health and welfare of patients, and the financial burden on national healthcare systems.

In September 2000, the Health Information Forum will hold a special meeting at the British Medical Association, London, on 'Access to reliable drug information in resource-poor countries'. All with an interest are invited to attend or to contribute by email.

For further details, please contact Neil Pakenham-Walsh at:


Email addresses and Web sites in
this article

Essential Drugs Project

Practical Pharmacy

BMJ Publishing Group
www.bmjbooks.com
Book Aid International
www.bookaid.org
CPA
www.jr2.ox.ac.uk/Pharmacy/CPA/CPAhomepage.html
INASP
www.inasp.info
ISDB
prn.usm.my/isdb
Pharmaceutical Press
www.pharmpress.com
TALC
www.talcuk.org
WHO
www.who.int

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Scientific Communication Today

Tenth International Conference of Science Editors (IFSE-10/ IFSE-Rio) will focus on new publishing methods and their implications for publishers world-wide.

The scientific publishing and communication environment has been deeply influenced by new technologies. Publishers, editors, and authors are willing to learn how to work in a changing environment, which in addition to traditional processes, includes a series of new methods and forms of publishing and communicating scientific information.

Among the leading issues that emerge from this dynamic scenario, the Tenth International Conference of Science Editors (IFSE-Rio), to be held
in Rio de Janeiro from the 27th until the 30th of August 2000, will offer a forum for discussing the processes, methods, and tools of publishing science, from the perspective of both developed and developing countries.

The keynote theme for the opening session of IFSE-Rio will be 'How is science being communicated?' This presentation will discuss how new technologies are changing the ways of communicating science today, reflecting the variety of means and methods which are currently experienced. But rather than describing them, the presentation will focus on the problems and perspectives these new means and methods bring both to the producers of scientific information, and to those who use it.

'The present and future of scientific communication: the perspective of developed countries' and 'The present and future of scientific communication: the perspective of developing countries' are sessions planned to discuss the real perspectives and solutions new science publishing initiatives can offer particularly to enhance the communication and exchange between countries and scientists.

A session with the title 'Is the science of developing countries being published or lost?' will focus on the means and tools of publishing and communicating science applied by developing countries. What are these means and tools? Which problems and solutions do they bring to the publication and communication of science? Is science
being efficiently published? Is it being lost?

Other key issues such as the different and related roles scientists and science communicators play in the dissemination of scientific knowledge in society; how information about complex scientific discoveries can be better disseminated and understandable to the general public; and how to improve democratic input into relationship between scientists, media and society, will be discussed in the session 'Communicating science: the dialogue between science, media and society.'

The sessions 'Indexing and ranking scientific literature: international databases experiences' and 'Ranking scientific journals: challenges for developing countries' aim not only to report the experiences of databases such as Medline, PsycINFO, ISI, and Lilacs in indexing and ranking scientific literature, but also to discuss a series of questions about evaluation of science journals that emerge from science institutions, publishers, editors and authors.

A session called 'Why and for whom do developing countries publish scientific journals?' will focus on the scientific journals publishing system in developing countries, especially discussing its role as a communication tool in regional and local environments. The increasing value of science created by the developing world, the need for easy access to science information published in journals, the establishment of cooperative programs, and the improvement of scientific communication between journals and their public are some of the issues to be discussed.

Since interest in peer review has been growing in these days of electronic publishing, a session will be dedicated to the subject. 'Peer review in the online era' and 'Peer review: present and future' will focus on the evolution of the peer review system from traditional aspects and procedures to new perspectives and proposals in the Internet age.

Finally, a session on 'Current models for electronic publishing' will focus on innovative and comprehensive proposals to publish science using new technologies of communication, among them HighWire Press ( highwire.stanford.edu ), and SciELO ( www.scielo.br ).

More information from:

Irati Antonio
Organizing Committee
IFSE-Rio Conference
Email:

or:

BIREME
Rua Botucatu, 862
Vila Clementino - 04023-901
Sao Paulo
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International awards to support co-operation in health research for development

Call for applications

A number of International Health Research Awards will be made in association with the International Conference on Health Research for Development to be held in Bangkok, Thailand in October 2000. The awards, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, are intended to encourage co-operation between institutions to enable the environment for health research. Applications are invited from institutions in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, South and South East Asia, China, the Pacific islands, the Middle East, or Eastern Europe.

Proposals are requested from partnerships of institutions representing, or proposing to create, national or regional initiatives targeting several of the following themes:
  • Strengthening national or regional health research agendas
  • Increasing awareness of the importance of research among stakeholders
  • Promoting good ethical practices in health research
  • Improving communication and dissemination of research results
  • Translating research into action
  • Improving the processes and indicators for evaluating the impact of research
  • Strengthening capacity in the management of research

Preference will be given to proposals that meet the following criteria:

  • Potential to catalyse national or regional health priorities
  • Multi-disciplinary approach with a mix of senior and junior researchers, and some evidence of proven track record within the team
  • Ability to monitor and evaluate the initiative
  • Demonstration of likely long-term sustainability and capacity building potential
  • Low administrative costs relative to likely research impact, with efficient financial administration between institutions
  • Leadership ability to co-ordinate the proposed activities within the partnership
  • Creative partnerships, especially those involving non-governmental organisations that could give the initiative greater relevance to communities or policymakers

These non-renewable awards will cover a 2 to 3 year project period and will likely total between US$200,000 and US$300,000 each. Applications should identify one lead institution to receive and manage the award. This institution should hold charitable, not-for-profit status, and the proposed activities must not include advocacy efforts that involve lobbying for legislation. Awards to individuals will not be considered.

Proposals of between 5-10 pages should reach the Awards Selection Council Secretariat no later than June 30, 2000 and should be organised under the following headings:

1. Background
2. Objectives and how they relate to the spirit of the awards
3. Partners including letters of support/agreement from all participating institutions
4. One page curriculum vitae for each key investigator
5. Methodology and proposed activities
6. Time frame with evidence of longer term sustainability
7. Budget: the total budget, indication of any other sources of funding and a breakdown of the proportion of the budget requested for the award, in US$.
8. Expected results and means of dissemination
9. Monitoring and evaluation procedures


Applications should be sent to:

The Awards Selection Council Secretariat
c/o College of Public Health
Chulalongkorn University
10th Floor, Institute Building 3
Soi Chula 62
Phayathai Road
Bangkok 10330
Thailand

To facilitate the selection process, applications should ideally be sent electronically to:
or by fax to:
+ 4122 7914169
or:
+ 662 2556046.

Website of the Awards Selection Council Secretariat: http://www.rreach.ch

Requests for further information should be sent by e-mail to:



Final selection of successful initiatives will be made by the Awards Selection Council by the end of July 2000, with notification to all applicants in August 2000. The awards will be announced at the Bangkok Conference on Health Research for Development

WWW: www.conference2000.ch

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Dutch HIVOS adopts comprehensive ICT policy

Until remarkably recently, few agencies working with developing countries took ICT as an issue worth focusing entire projects on. Although most development co-operation programmes had an ICT component, this was often limited to establishing the IT infrastructure required for the achievement of objectives of an entirely different nature. It was not until the full social and cultural impact of modern ICT became more apparent that the medium itself received its current recognition as a potential agent of change in its own right. This is forcing donor agencies to rethink the role of ICT in their strategies. One of the first organisations to place ICT at the very centre of its activities is Dutch HIVOS. In February 2000, the HIVOS board adopted its policy paper, 'Access for all: Equal opportunities in cyberspace'.

Cyberspace is progressively shaking the foundations of traditional operations, management, internal communication and government policy. It narrows the gap between producers and consumers, between employers and employees, between teachers and students, between parents and children. Classical role patterns are being reversed.

But the introduction of widespread access to the Internet and other ICT applications in developing countries faces major obstacles related to access, infrastructure, priorities, cost, skills, gender, culture and censorship.

Despite these obstacles, the influence of ICT is growing, and intelligent, creative and locally adapted applications are emerging in many fields. ICT opens up completely new opportunities for developing countries to operate successfully on economic (global) markets, especially for small market players. Fast and easy access to information and knowledge is crucial in healthcare. The Internet offers a wealth of new opportunities for education and science. The Internet has given rise to a wave of new information media. The rise of the Internet has forced international institutions and national governments to be more open and transparent and can be a powerful weapon for democracy movements under certain conditions. The rise in power and influence of NGOs that operate internationally is largely attributable to effective use of information technology.

Digital divide

Promising as the opportunities offered by ICTs may seem, the digital information revolution shows all signs of creating a 'digital divide', both world-wide and within national societies, especially in developing countries. Considerable public and private investments are justified in fighting this divide. And although arguments exist against spending development funds on ICT (in areas without a reliable supply of drinking water or even a telephone network, the need for Internet access is questionable and investing more in ICT may mean investing less in other fields of development), being deprived of access to information and knowledge is one of the factors that exacerbates poverty.
Access to information and knowledge implies access to power. Accordingly, Hivos has a unique opportunity to use ICTs to improve the position of marginalised individuals and to enhance the power of its partners in the South via access to information and knowledge.

Recognition of the fact that ICT has a large impact on the practice of Hivos and on its network in developing countries has led to the following general policy objective:

Hivos aims to support NGOs (and their target groups) in developing countries actively in using the opportunities provided by the information revolution. This programme will further the struggle against the imminent world-wide digital divide compounding the existing gap between rich and poor.

Skills and expertise

Hivos' ICT policy includes a logical focus on the people who do not yet use or make very little use of opportunities provided by ICT. Giving them all personal access to ICTs via a computer, however, is unrealistic and undesirable. Accordingly, Hivos will involve local NGOs that have or hope to acquire ICT expertise and help them develop the skills required, such as general computer skills, systems-related knowledge, web and content management skills, vision of strategic applications of ICTs within the organisation and for the target groups, etc.

HIVOS' full policy document (in Word) can be found at:
www.hivos.nl/Aktueel/2000/April and is called:
ACCESS FOR ALL-SUMPART.doc


More information from:
HIVOS
Raamweg 16
2596 HL The Hague
The Netherlands

 

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New INASP publications

Book Marketing & Promotion:
A Handbook of Good Practice

This handbook is a compendium of practical advice on all aspects of book marketing and promotion for publishers, particularly those in developing countries. It aims to assist not only publishers but it will also prove to be valuable for use by non-profit organisations with publishing activities.

Organised into 17 information-packed chapters, the book provides tips and ideas on how to maximise sales and sets out the different types of marketing methods, techniques, and approaches, with each chapter providing guidelines for good practice. Model forms, checklists, and other kinds of documentation are included throughout the book.

By Hans M Zell
ca. 416 pp.
297x210mm
ISBN 0-9522989-9-6 £35.00/$63.00
Publication date: June 2000
Resources permitting, a complimentary distribution to appropriate developing country institutions will be made in response to requests on a first come, first served basis.



For more details and the complete table of contents, see: www.inasp.info/psi/bmp/index.html

Exclusively distributed by:

African Books Collective Ltd.
The Jam Factory



Web site: www.africanbookscollective.com Two new agricultural publishing guides under preparation

The manuscripts for two practical manuals A Guidebook on Journal Publishing for Agricultural and Rural Development, by Anthony Youdeowei and A Practical Guide to Marketing and Promotion for Agricultural and Rural Development Publications, by Bridget Impey, are being prepared by INASP in collaboration with CTA are nearing completion and should be available in the autumn.



Electronic Journal Publishing: A Reader

INASP has just received funding from the National Academy of Sciences, USA to update and expand Electronic Journal Publishing: A Reader. Janet Hussein of the Scientific Association of Zimbabwe has offered to compile the new edition, which is aimed directly at those contemplating electronic journal publishing for the first time.

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Notice Board

The INASP Newsletter Notice Board is a public forum for organisations and institutions wishing to advertise their projects, activities, offers or requests.

Short contributions can be sent to the editor at INASP.

Medinfo 2001: Towards Global Health - The Informatics Route to Knowledge
Information and knowledge are becoming increasingly important for the effective delivery and management of healthcare. The use of knowledge in information systems and broad use of computing (informatics) will inevitably lead to a higher quality of healthcare provision. As the co-chairs of the Scientific Programme Committee, Professors Hasman (Netherlands) and Takeda (Japan) say 'Much attention will be paid within the medinfo2001 Congress to the ways to obtain, exchange and use the Informatics Route to Knowledge and contribute Towards Global Health'.

Medinfo2001, the tenth triennial world congress on informatics in support of health, will be held 2-5 September 2001 in London, UK. It will be hosted by the British Computer Society Health Informatics Groups for the International Medical Informatics Association. The web site www.medinfo2001.org gives details of the programme topics, exhibition opportunities and social events, alongside an invitation to submit an application for bursary support to attend.

Sharing solutions of interest to countries in transition, and showcasing the developments of those countries, are two themes that run through both the scientific programme and the exhibition element of the Congress. Contributions are invited for papers, tutorials, workshops, demonstrations and posters by the closing date, 1 December 2000.

The Call for Participation (as a presenter, delegate or exhibitor) is available on the web or by e-mail from:


or from:
The Medinfo2001 Secretariat
PO Box 94
Malvern
Worcestershire, WR13 5YB UK
Fax: + 44 (0)1886 833843



Healthlink Worldwide's Manual for Resource Centres
(By Sarah Dutton)


Access to locally relevant information is essential for the continuing education of health workers and to help them provide effective health care. One way Healthlink Worldwide meets that need is through practical newsletters- AIDS Action, Child Health Dialogue, Disability Dialogue, and Health Action. In addition, Healthlink Worldwide has worked for 21 years to improve access to information through the development of resource centres. This experience has been gathered together in a new manual for trainers and those planning to set up, develop or evaluate a resource centre. The manual includes examples, tips, illustrations, check and resource lists, and is applicable to any size of resource centre.

It has been an interesting experience co-authoring this publication, as the dynamic nature of some topics has meant several updates before publication. We decided to design and distribute the manual as a living document that will evolve and be updated with use. The printed version comes in a ring binder, and electronic versions enable easy access and adaptation of the text to local needs.

The text has been tested recently in a training course in Mozambique, and will soon be used for a course in the Middle East. The manual is available in Arabic and Portuguese, as well as English. We would like feedback on both the content and format, as well as suggestions to include in the manual or training exercises.

The electronic version of the manual is available free of charge in full text and Rich Text Format (RTF) files from the Healthlink Worldwide web site ( www.healthlink.org.uk ). Printed copies cost £9.50 for developing countries and £14.50/US$23.50 elsewhere.
Contact:Publications Administrator


START Young Scientist Award Program

To recognise the achievements of outstanding young scientists from developing countries in Africa, Asia and Oceania, the International START Secretariat is requesting nominations for the START Young Scientist Award Program. Award decisions will be based on a journal article published by the young scientist (preferably in English). In keeping with START's mission of conducting research on regional aspects of global change, the article should focus on some aspect of global change research that is being conducted on a regional level or has a strong regional focus.

Awards, which include an honorarium, will be made to scientists from developing countries in each of the START regions: Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia and Oceania. Award announcements are expected to be made in August 2000.

Applicants for the START Young Scientist Awards must be 40 years of
age or younger. In the case of multi-authored articles, the applicant
should be the lead author of the article. The article should have
been published within the last two years.

Recipients of START Fellowship/ Visiting Scientist Awards are strongly encouraged to submit articles they may have published based on research conducted with START support.

Articles will be reviewed in consultation with the respective START Regional Centers/Secretariats and by a special review committee. Applicants or nominators should submit one journal article and a brief biography to:

Ms. Amy Freise
Program Coordinator
International START Secretariat
2000 Florida Avenue, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20009
USA
Phone: + 1 (0)202 462-2213
Fax: + 1 (0)202 457-5859
E-mail:


The deadline for submission of nominations is June 16, 2000.



Global Knowledge 2000

Those who were unable to attend the Global Knowledge conference in Kuala Lumpur earlier this year can read the proceedings and many of the papers at the conference's web site at
www.globalknowledge.org which has recently been updated. The conference's main achievement was reaching consensus on a draft action plan for the GK Partnership. The plan comprises over twenty projects addressing the conference's three themes: access, empowerment and government and its four cross-cutting issues: youth, gender, local knowledge and the media.

The draft of the proceedings is at:
www.globalknowledge.org/docs/actionsummit-10mar.doc



Call for Research Grants from the International Foundation for Science

The International Foundation for Science (IFS) provides support to young scientists of merit in developing countries by awarding research grants and providing grantees with additional services such as travel grants and purchasing assistance.

Research grants are awarded up to a maximum value of US$12,000 for a period of one to three years and may be renewed twice. They are intended for the purchase of equipment, expendable supplies, and literature.

Applicants must be citizens of, and carry out the research in, a developing country. They should also work at a university or national research institution in a developing country (countries in Europe, including Turkey and Cyprus, or the former Soviet Union do not qualify for support). As well as being under the age of 40 (under 30 for applicants from China) and at the start of their research career. Candidates must possess a higher academic degree, which should be at least an MSc or equivalent.

The IFS supports projects dealing with the management, use, and conservation of biological resources. The Foundation organises its activities into six Research Areas: Animal Production, Aquatic Resources, Crop Science, Food Science, Forestry/Agroforestry, and Natural Products.

For further information and application forms in English and French write to:

IFS

WWW:
www.ifs.se


The International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications

. Website: www.inasp.info
and also:

The next INASP Newsletter will be published in November 2000. If you would like to contribute to its contents, please write to the editorial address above. Contributions must be received by 1 October 2000.
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