The WHO Regional Office for Africa (AFRO) Health Sciences Library and Documentation Centre collects, organizes and disseminates medical and health-related literature to respond to the information requests of the Regional office and field staff, other United Nations institutions and international organizations, as well as researchers from Member States of the WHO African Region.
The Library is also open to the public. The Health Sciences Library and Documentation Centre has two functions:
(i) It provides library services to WHO staff in support of AFRO programmes. These services include a data bank.
(ii) It promotes and coordinates the WHO Literature Service Programmes, to improve health libraries, documentation centres and literature services at country level.
DATABASES AND REFERENCE SERVICES
The AFRO has a database called AFROLIB accessible on: http://afrolib.afro.who.int. or directly Access database .
Manual and online literature searches are done by the Library upon request from the AFRO staff and researchers. The Library staff can be requested to assist researchers in doing online searches. Queries for information can be forwarded to the Library through electronic mail, telephone and fax if a personal visit is not possible. To keep the staff informed of the new developments and research findings in medicine and health, AFRO Library publishes a monthly Awareness Bulletin called Infodigest.
This tool is sent via e-mail every month to the professional staff of all the Divisions and Country Offices. It is also available on the Intranet. In its July 2003 issue, the WHO Library gave more details about online medical journals and WHO full text technical documents. All these databases are accessible from any office in the Regional Office and the WHO Country Offices.
In 2002, the WHO Library team at Headquarters (LNK/HQ) launched an initiative to allow access for all WHO staff worldwide to an online full text library of journals and databases. This project named GIFT(Global Information Full-Text) offers products such as:
The Web of Knowledge: an integrated system including the Journal Citation Reports, Science Citation Index, the Social Science Citation Index, the Arts and Humanities Citation Index, Current Contents, and Current Web Contents. GIFT is open to all the staff from AFRO and the WHO Country Offices at : www.who.int/library/gift.
A similar programme named Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI) provides free or nearly free access to the major journals in biomedical and related social sciences, to public institutions in developing countries. Starting in January 2002 with over 2000 journals from the world's leading biomedical publishers, HINARI is part of the Health InterNetwork, which was introduced by the United Nations' Secretary General Kofi Annan at the UN Millennium Summit in the year 2000. More details on this network can be found at : http://www.healthinternetwork.org
AFRICAN INDEX MEDICUS (AIM)
AIM is a regional database of bibliographical records, some with abstracts of published health material related to Africa. It comprises periodical articles, books, reports, theses, health learning materials, etc, since 1990. The printed version of the African Index Medicus is available quarterly and contains only entries sent by the national data-input sites or recorded at the coordinating centre at the WHO Regional Office for Africa.
The Library, in collaboration with Library Information and Networks for knowledge (LNK/HQ) and Marketing and Dissemination (MDI/HQ), is involved in the Blue Trunk Libraries project which provides basic health and medical information to district health teams in developing countries (46 Member States). At least 1317 Blue Trunk libraries have been bought and training sessions have been organized in Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Uganda, Rwanda and Senegal. This project has not yet reached the Portuguese speaking countries. For more details on the project please see:
The AFRO Library organizes some exhibitions, including the one that takes place every year during the Regional Committee.
ASSOCIATION FOR HEALTH INFORMATION & LIBRARIES IN AFRICA (AHILA)
The AFRO Library is member of the Association for Health Information and Libraries in Africa (AHILA). AHILA is a professional association founded in 1984 with now 46 country chapters and many partners and collaborators worldwide.
AHILA aims to:
Improve the provision of up-to-date and relevant information to health and medical workers in Africa.
Encourage the professional development of librarianship.
Promote the development of resource-sharing and exchange of experiences and information among African health information professionals.
Promote the development, standardization, and exchange of national databases of medical and health literature produced in the African countries in the form of an African Index Medicus.
The Library and Documentation Centre is situated on the ground floor of the main office.
World Health Organization
Regional Office for Africa
Library and Documentation Centre
B.P.: 06 Tel: 47-242 39 444
Fax: 47-241 39 673
Brazzaville - Congo