With four UN agencies, four discipline specific programs (including HINARI) and 150 publishers and technology partners, Research4Life (www.research4life.org) has developed a public-private partnership with the aim to develop access to scientific literature. Announced in May 2011, the content available has dramatically increased since 2011 to 17,000 peer reviewed scientific journals, books and databases allowing more than 6,000 institutions in more than 100 developing countries now have free or low cost access to peer-reviewed online content, largely due to Elsevier's contribution of 7,000 books this past year.
Elsevier was one of Research4Life's six founding publishers and continues to contribute a quarter of content and a team of colleagues that are working to programs like the Elsevier Foundation's Innovative Libraries in Developing Countries. This provided further support for infrastructure building, medical libraries and the preservation of unique research and training, such as the MLA's Librarians without Borders program, which is now available to thousands through Research4Life resources.
An avid user of Research4Life, Dr Patrick Kyamanywa, Dean, Faculty of Medicine National University of Rwanda, has particularly welcomed the addition of eBooks: "The publishers involved in the HINARI project should be praised for their commitment to improving access to information to students, researchers and practitioners in some of the poorest countries in the world. Elsevier appears to be leading the way and our hope is that other publishers will follow suit and help to achieve the target of 'Health Information For All by 2015'".
Below is an extract from a case study book created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Research4Life, mapping the evolution of research cultures in 10 different countries, featuring inspirational stories including pediatrician Dr Neopane's in Nepal.
CASE STUDY: Research out of reach
Desperately short of up-to-date medical literature, Kathmandu's Shree Birendra Hospital in Nepal needed to upgrade their skills and knowledge but didn't have the finance to access the peer-reviewed journals. After pediatrician Dr Arun Neopane, a voracious user of journal papers, and his team convinced the hospital to invest in an internet connection, it unblocked the window to immediate medical research, but the complete papers – crucial for the incorporation of research results into practice – remained out of reach. It was the new internet connection that directed Dr Neopane to Research4Life's HINARI Program and the institution was granted access to HINARI in February 2008.
"I can remember those days," says Dr Neopane, "when we had to go to the library and sit in the archives section turning page after page […] frustrated by […] not finding what one needed. Gone are those days for doctors now, and all because of free access to medical literature through HINARI."
Pediatrician Arun Neopane's passion for the use of journal papers led to his appointment as the hospital's Officer in Charge and Editor of the Journal of Shree Birendra Hospital (JSBH) in 2003, leading its conversion and making it available electronically through Nepal Journals OnLine (NepJOL). Dr Neopane was then appointed as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Nepal Paediatric Society (JNPS), the oldest specialty journal in the country, transforming it from an annual journal struggling as a credible scientific publication, into a thrice-yearly, internationally recognized, peer-reviewed journal with its own website (www.nepjol.info/index.php/JNPS). Dr Neopane's achievements were further recognized with his appointment as General Secretary of the recently established Nepal Association of Medical Editors.
Better clinical treatment
The hospital's access to HINARI has allowed better clinical treatment, that has directly improved patient health. For example, using HINARI, Nepalese pediatricians discovered the research published in Pediatrics (the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics) which showed that zinc is essential in treating diarrheal diseases in children, mitigating illness. This resulted in them changing their treatment of diarrhea, saving many lives.
Ylann Schemm manages Elsevier's corporate responsibility and partnerships program which focuses on research access in the developing world, promoting women in science, popularizing an understanding of peer review and inspiring early career researchers to become ambassadors of sound science.
Photo courtesy WHO/Tom Pietrasik