Forty-three new countries were added to the list of eligible participants in the Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI) this week, giving them online access to 2,200 high-quality medical journals at drastically reduced prices.
The 43 countries, which all have gross national products per capita of between $1,000-$3,000, join the 69 low-income countries (GNP/capita below $1,000) whose hospitals, medical schools and research institutions already access the package for free.
The total value of the publication package offered is in excess of $750,000. While the poorest countries can access the publications for free, countries eligible under this second stage will pay an annual fee of $1,000 beginning with a six month free trial. Access for eligible institutions is granted through admission to a portal maintained by the World Health Organization.
The 28 participating publishers are contributing the fees collected to a fund to train librarians and researchers to make the best use of the vast amount of information now being made available.
HINARI has been developed by the World Health Organization and its publisher partners to support the health sector in developing countries by enabling access to high quality, timely, relevant scientific information at affordable prices. It builds on recent developments in academic publishing and library services, particularly the shift from print to electronic journal publishing. HINARI has evolved under the umbrella of the Health InterNetwork, a WHO-led public-private partnership initiated by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as part of his Millennium Agenda to narrow the digital divide.
"In HINARI lies the seed of a knowledge revolution," says Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, WHO Director-General. "The knowledge gap between rich and poor must be overcome if we are to reduce poverty. The information made available through HINARI will help developing countries in improving skills, developing research, and by extension, to save lives."
“It is an enormous challenge for researchers and health professionals to keep up-to-date – even more so when access to information is limited by cost,” says Dr Michael Scholtz, responsible for the Health InterNetwork Initiative. “By having access to current and high quality journals, developing country scientists have a much better chance of getting published internationally, as they now can write based on up-to-date knowledge about their field.”