(Submitted: 10 March 2009 – Revised version: June 2009 – Accepted: June 2009.)
Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2009;87:631-635. doi: 10.2471/BLT.09.064659
Health knowledge generated in the world’s laboratories is passed down the information chain through publications, through its impact and application, its subsequent “translation” into appropriate contexts for different user communities, arriving finally with health workers and the general public, as the diagram of the knowledge cycle from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research has shown. 1 Studies have shown that access to published health research by the research communities in developing countries is no longer “fit for purpose”. 2 As has been well documented, rising costs of subscriptions and permission barriers imposed by publishers have barred access to the extent that local health research and health care have been damaged through lack of information. 3, 4 For example, Yamey 5 tells of a physician in southern Africa who could not afford full access to journals but based a decision to alter a perinatal HIV prevention programme on one single abstract. The full text article would have shown that the findings were not relevant to the country’s situation.