Thank you for responding to our June 18 request for information on Health
Information Needs Assessments (HINAs) conducted in Africa. Your
information and contacts were very useful to us here at Southern Africa
Information Access (SAIA) as we thought about possible programming efforts
in this direction. We received so many inquiries about the information
that we requested and "met" so many others working in the same field that
we wanted to share the results with you. The following list is rather
brief and reveals how little has been done in this area. We didn't receive
any responses from the UN or governmental development agencies that we
attempted to contact and so are unaware of any of their work in this field.
The earliest survey we found was conducted by the University of Zimbabwe
Medical Library in 1985. Doctors and senior nurses at general and district
hospitals were surveyed to determine their information needs and perceived
resources. The results highlighted the respondents lack of current books
and journals and their need for news of international and local health care
developments. The library is exploring doing a follow-up to this study
with a partner in the coming year.
In 1989, AMREF/MOH Kenya carried out an information needs survey in select
health centers and dispensaries in three districts in Kenya. The goal of
the survey was in develop basic health libraries in health facilities in
those districts. An inhouse report was produced and can be obtained for
the cost of photocopying.
SatelLife/HealthNet has conducted several small surveys with regard to
information needs for their on-line publications, HealthNet News and the
AIDS Bulletin. One was conducted on-line and the other on paper in Uganda.
They had no conclusive results but hope to do a large on-line survey of
all their subscribers soon.
The Health Foundation of New York has a program called "Communication for
Better Health" in Zambia. They surveyed Zambian health professionals on
their information needs through a local library, and, based on the survey
results and on the needs perceived by an advisory team of health
professionals, send a health information brochure to 22,000 health
professionals on a monthly or bimonthly basis.
The Maternal and Child Health Program at the University of Cape Town
conducted a HINA with health workers in order to provide information in the
maternal and child health field to rural health workers. They are
interested in conducting similar assessments for the health information
needs of non-health workers.
Health Systems Trust of Durban, South Africa put on a workshop in November
of 1995 entitled "Meeting the information needs of health workers". There
is a published report from that workshop, listing current sources of health
information in South Africa, which also includes a discussion of
information needs and recommendations for the future.
Trudie Venter at the University of the Orange Free State in South Africa
did her thesis on community health information needs in 1995, surveying two
city communities and the layman's need for health information. The results
of her work led to the creation of MedInfo, a national information service
available through HealthLink.
The following items are not health information studies, but resources
available in the health information field. The International Network for
the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) in London recently
started a program called INASP-Health to assist health information
providers in developing countries. One of the project's activities will be
to build a "Health Information Provider research and evaluation database"
to be launched in 1998. The program will also serve health information
providers through advisory and liaison services and a database of partner
institutions. Look for an INASP-Health list server next year.
CAB International is hosting a workshop in Nairobi in November entitled
"Health Information Exchange in Eastern and Southern Africa". The themes
of this conference are the acquisition, management and use of information
on human health in a developing country context, with particular reference
to communicable diseases and public health.
The groups and individuals that we contacted or surveyed included:
SatelLife/HealthNet, Boston, USA; the Global Health Network, Philadelphia,
USA; The Health Foundation of New York, New York, USA; Maternal and Child
Health Program, University of Capetown, South Africa; Health Systems Trust,
Durban, South Africa; University of Zimbabwe Medical Library, Harare,
Zimbabwe; International Network for the Availability Scientific
Publications -Health (INASP-Health), London, UK; the conference organizers
of "Health Infomatics in Africa"; CAB International; the Association of
Health Information and Libraries in Africa; the African Network of IT
Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List; numerous members of the HELINA-L
list server and many others.
We hope that this information is useful to you also and that you will
continue to share your work with us. Please let us know of any omissions
to this list. We would be happy to provide you with contact details for
any of the people or organizations mentioned.
Best wishes in your work.
Karla Yoder Russell C. Ayers
Research Assistant President
Southern Africa Information Access
3737 Seminary Road
Alexandria, VA 22304
[log in to unmask]