May 31st, 2011 by John Carey
As biomedical research comes to rely more and more upon swift online access to the most current journal literature, a digital divide has emerged between those countries (and institutions) who can afford access to major databases and journals and those who cannot. Especially given the disparity between local income levels and typical vendors’ subscription or licensing fees, many institutions in developing countries have no budget for the databases and other resources that we at Hunter take for granted. Fortunately for researchers in the developing world, a partial solution is now at hand.
The HINARI “Access to Research in Health Programme” is a partnership between the World Health Organization and major scholarly publishers. Launched in 2002, HINARI aims to provide “free or very low cost online access to the major journals in biomedical and related social sciences to local, not-for-profit institutions in developing countries.” According to the HINARI website, more than 160 publishers are now participating in the program, which offers free or reduced-price access to many resources familiar to Hunter users, including CINAHL, Scirus, and Web of Knowledge, as well as individual journals in the health or social sciences.
Institutions in two groups of countries are eligible for access to these resources through HINARI. Countries with a gross national income of $1,600 or less qualify for free access. Institutions in countries with an average income between $1,601 and $4,700 can join HINARI for a fee of $1,000 per institution per year. Thus, for instance, institutions in Haiti or Vietnam would qualify for free access; schools in the Dominican Republic or Morocco would pay the reduced rate. Only local, not-for-profit institutions—such as national universities, professional schools, or teaching hospitals—are eligible.
Hopefully initiatives such as HINARI will help to create a more inclusive global networked research community and raise the level of health care in the developing world.