ICTs and access to health Information and knowledge: role of african health librarians

Ahila_14_cropReport from Jean Shaw of Partnerships in Health Information, attending the 14th biennial AHILA congress.   This year, for the first time, there is to be a CABI prize for a short report on health information activities in an AHILA member country (known as a chapter). The prize is £500 and is awarded by AHILA/Phi. There will be daily conference reports/blogs.

AHILA14, Day 1.

Professor Maria Musoke's keynote presentation encompassed the main themes of the Congress and AHILA's role in accommodating the huge changes that have taken place over the 30 years of its existence – both the benefits and the challenges. These themes were taken up by the principal guest speakers – the representative for the Minister, for Health and Social Welfare and His Excellency the Vice-President of the United Republic of Tanzania who emphasised the importance of e-health resources in the education and practice of health care and the effects of health on poverty and the national economy.

The next exciting event was the presentation of the CABI prize by His Excellency to Dr. Alison Kinengyere & Glorias Asiimwe (Uganda) for their report on the activities of the Uganda Chapter of AHILA and their aims. Their main focus is, and continues to be, on training and the promotion of continuing professional education.

Then  began a rich feast of presentations which addressed some of the challenges to be faced by the information professions: a web based site to improve collaboration and efficiency of clinical trials for new drugs; social media and "infodemiology" of misinformation – its identification and containment; an African perspective on sensitive health-related data; and MEDBOX an online library suitable for health workers in crisis situations.

As Professor Musoke [The University Librarian, Makerere University] emphasised in her keynote address, AHILA and its Chapters must ensure that its structure is able to meet and support the benefits and challenges of ICT in the provision of  relevant, safe and secure health information to all who need it.  

 This report also appears on the Global Health Knowledge Base .

 Further Reading

AHILA e-newsletter October 2014


“A Wakeup Call” on Climate Change and Global Health

Climate change will affect human health through multiple routes according to speakers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) on Friday. They were there to launch “Climate Change and Global Health”, a book that analyses impacts on human health from heat waves, vector-borne diseases to conflict.

Sir Andy Haines, Professor of Public Health and Primary Care, and former director of the LSHTM, described the book is a “wakeup call”, “creating a new paradigm that will define the issue for decades to come.” He highlighted the role of the late Tony McMichael, a contributor to the book, who developed the concept of the “healthy worker effect” (the observation that people in employment tend to be healthier) and pioneered the study of climate change and global health.


Colin Butler, at the LSHTM, London

Continue reading

Arab world holds first public health conference

Dubai-69386_150ccoCABI is attending the First Arab World Congress on Public Health this week. Opening in Dubai tomorrow, the conference will be a forum for leaders in public health to exchange knowledge and develop best practice in the region. Speakers from Europe, the USA and Australia, will also bring an international perspective to the public health issues facing Arab countries.

Read more…

Mystery disease in Ethiopia solved: linked to weed toxin

Imagine this…

A mysterious disease terrorising your community, not infectious but spreading nonetheless, and killing your relatives and neighbours. All you want to do is pack your bags and flee. Worse, when your plight comes to the attention of the health authorities, they are stumped and its not going to be easy or quick to solve.

A recent example of this kind of illness is “nodding disease (South Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania), which affects children 5-15 years old: they suffer epileptic seizures which causes their heads to nod, and they end up severely disabled and finally die. The USA’s Centre for Disease Control (CDC) is working to identify the cause: so far, the best guess is that it’s linked to the parasite that causes river blindness combined with an autoimmune reaction, and exposure to chemicals could predispose.

Other examples of non-communicable disease outbreaks

On Global Health, I found there are outbreaks going back to 1911 (epidemic dropsy) but more recent ones were in India,  Bangladesh, Nigeria, Brazil, China, Afghanistan and even the USA.

 What are the likely causes for these outbreaks? The body of research, as found on databases like Global Health, tells us that they could be contamination of food and water supply, exposure to chemicals or heavy metals in the environment, or even use of traditional medicine.

 Mystery liver disease in Ethiopia with a ‘happy’ ending

Can public health authorities in low-income countries solve & stop such outbreaks?   Yes. In 2005, in Ethiopia, a 4 year long outbreak of liver disease in Tseda Emba, a small village of the Tahtay Koraro district of Tigray, finally reached the attention of the Tigray Health Bureau (THB). Now, in 2012, the multidisciplinary and one-health approach they initiated has “solved” the mysterious illness, significantly reducing new cases. 

 The research work was the subject of an entire session at the recent World Congress Public Health (WCPH-2012) in Ethiopia, and is now published as 5 papers in the supplement to April 2012’s edition of Ethiopian Medical Journal (EMJ). [Abstracts to these papers will be available on Global Health]. It demonstrates the relevance of the one-health approach to public health in low-income countries and is a fascinating detective story….

Continue reading

From abstract to full text

CAB Abstracts banner icon Global health banner iconMost people searching an abstracts database want to be able to click straight through to the full text of a relevant or interesting abstract.

Full text availability is one of the real added value features of CAB Abstracts and the Global Health database, but where and how to find the full text can still be confusing.

Here at CABI we do try hard to make the full text of any paper we abstract for the database(s) available to users by providing links (including DOIs where possible) and holding full text in our own permanent repository. Over the years we have been building a repository of full text material, mainly journals and conferences, which we host on our servers so that users can click through directly from the abstract straight to the full text pdf. The CABI repository currently contains over 85,000 full text papers from scientific journals and over 54,000 full text papers from conferences, plus the full text of a number of reports and single documents. If you search CAB Abstracts or Global Health on our own platform (CAB Direct), all papers held in the CABI Full Text repository have a clearly visible “View Full Text” button. The CABI Full Text repository is also available to searchers using other platforms (e.g. OvidSP).

We created the CABI repository so that we could offer permanent, unbroken links to full text papers from journals and conferences which for some reason or other are not available online or are difficult to find –  some papers, for instance, are available in print only, and some are available online but the links change or websites disappear over time. The initial concept was to provide a win-win situation for authors and users – authors knew that their papers would be more widely disseminated and read if they were accessible through our widely used database, and users would be able to click straight through to the full text. Our aim was to improve access to papers which were ‘difficult-to-find’ i.e. those which were not easily accessible through open access systems or from mainstream sources with a strong web presence.

Once you’ve done your search, here are some suggestions for subscribers on how to access the full text paper or document from an abstract or bibliographic record on the CAB Direct platform (this is generally applicable to CAB Abstracts/Global Health on any platform):

(1) If the abstract has a “View Full Text” button, this is a link to the paper in the CABI Full Text repository (for advanced users, sc:ft in the search box will pick up all records with a full text document in the CABI repository).

(2) If a url is provided on the database record, click on this to go to the publisher or society website. If your institution has a subscription to the journal, you should have access to the full text. If not, you’ll still find that some of these documents may be open access. Some publishers make all their papers open access, others make special issues open access, sometimes within the same issue of a journal some of the papers will be open access and some not. Others apply an embargo, so that papers published before a certain date become open access. All these models change frequently and the only certain way of knowing whether the full text is available (either open access or paid for) is to try the website.

(3) If the abstract record has a DOI this is even better. The DOI (Digital Object Identifier) is a unique identifier for that paper. Clicking on the DOI will take you straight to the exact document. Try copying the DOI into your Google search box to see if the paper has been deposited in an institutional or other repository.

(4) Or you can contact the author directly – most recent records have email contacts.

Finally, if you are a conference organizer, editor or society and wish to see your papers held in our repository so they are easily accessible to a worldwide audience of subscribers, please contact our Full Text Coordinator.

NICE people lend a helping hand

Wee boy helpinghand2

“Nice” is not a word often used in scientific research and when it appears in the UK media, it’s now associated with NICE, National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence.

More often than not this government organisation makes headlines with bad news: the press reports quickly when a drug is not approved for general use by the NHS. Occasionally the news concerns a drug approval, after a long campaign by an individual and their family.

So attending the Global Health 2011 at the BMA, London, made a very NICE change.  It was an eye-opener to see that an offshoot of NICE, “NICE International”, is making a real positive difference to health systems in many countries.

Funded solely by their client countries and international donors (World Bank, DFID and IADB, to name a few), NICE International has sent its adviser teams into Latin America, China, Georgia and India to improve clinical practice  and help them develop relevant guidelines. These countries may even set up their very own NICE organisation.

Continue reading

Helping yourself (GlobalHealthTrials.org)

In 2004,  a couple of years  after I started work for CABI, I heard a talk
by Paul Chinnock, then part of the Cochrane Collaboration, (conduct systematic reviews of the effects of healthcare) and now editor of Tropika.net. Essentially this talk outlined
the need for evidence-based interventions for developing countries:  amongst other suggestions, it called for a new
method to analyse evidence from small scale studies and for every Cochrane review to identify the most effective
intervention for both resource-poor and resource-rich settings.

Why was such an evidence base being provided
to the developed world by Cochrane but not to developing countries? To
understand the reason for this, you need to know how they work.

Continue reading