Free Access to Journals Gives Kenyan Science a Boost: A Joint Initiative between WHO and about 90 Scientific Publishers Has Transformed Patient Care at a University Hospital in Kenya, Where Students and Their Teachers Have Internet Access to the Latest Research Findings. the Programme Is Benefiting a Whole Generation of Scientists across the Developing World

By Osanjo, Tom | Bulletin of the World Health Organization, September 2006 | Go to article overview

Free Access to Journals Gives Kenyan Science a Boost: A Joint Initiative between WHO and about 90 Scientific Publishers Has Transformed Patient Care at a University Hospital in Kenya, Where Students and Their Teachers Have Internet Access to the Latest Research Findings. the Programme Is Benefiting a Whole Generation of Scientists across the Developing World


Osanjo, Tom, Bulletin of the World Health Organization


Dr Hilary Rono shudders to think what life for him and his colleagues in the medical profession--particularly in developing countries--was like before the Internet. Rono is just about to complete his masters degree in ophthalmology at the University of Nairobi.

The Internet has been key to his studies, especially the Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI). The WHO programme is a gift to academic institutions in developing countries, providing them with free online access to 3300 scientific journals. "Ibis gives researchers like Rono access to the most up-to-date information for research, but also information that can be used to improve clinical management of patients.

HINARI has transformed Rono's ability to check the latest trends in the management of trachoma and other eye diseases: "It's very easy for me to handle cases at the university hospital. ... Because of HINARI, my colleagues and I are able to provide the latest medical care for our patients here in Nairobi, instead of having them taken to the developed world for treatment."

The fact that the latest medical research is just a mouse click away is a major boon for practitioners in developing countries. Before HINARI, practitioners used to go to the library to refer to books and journals, most of which were way out of date. Dr Rono's lecturer Dr Stephen Gichuhi recalls that as an undergraduate in the 1990s: "You were considered well read if you had seen a five-year-old copy of the New England Journal of Medicine".

"It is often said that by the time a book rolls out of the press, the information is already outdated. But for those in the medical profession and practising in the developing world we were left with no option but to use such information," said Gichuhi.

Gichuhi has just finished a Masters degree dissertation using HINARI and says many of his colleagues are also benefiting from the programme.

As a leading institution in East and Central Africa, the University of Nairobi receives students from across the African continent, some of whom are from countries with limited access to the online journals that are now needed for effective research and patient care.

However, thanks to HINARI, these students can work successfully at the university and later take the same knowledge back home with them. Gichuhi said students and doctors were able to follow some of the latest trends in medical care, such as evidence-based medicine, thanks to HINARI.

Coupled with this, some students, doctors and lecturers use the programme for general reading as well as planning and doing research. …

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Free Access to Journals Gives Kenyan Science a Boost: A Joint Initiative between WHO and about 90 Scientific Publishers Has Transformed Patient Care at a University Hospital in Kenya, Where Students and Their Teachers Have Internet Access to the Latest Research Findings. the Programme Is Benefiting a Whole Generation of Scientists across the Developing World
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