The HIFA Voices database brings together the experiential knowledge of HIFA members: more than 12,000 professionals from over 2500 organisations in 170 countries, ranging from senior executives at WHO Geneva to community health workers in rural Gambia. The database focuses initially on the main English-language forum, HIFA. Content from other HIFA forums (CHILD2015, HIFA-Zambia, HIFA-Portuguese, HIFA-EVIPNet-French) will be added at a later date.
HIFA Voices helps us collectively to build a picture of the global healthcare knowledge ecosystem and the drivers and barriers within it. The database will help inform current and future health publishing and information services for health workers, citizens, researchers and policymakers. The emphasis is on low and middle-income countries.
HIFA Voices is a key component of the wider HIFA Strategy (1. HIFA Forums; 2. HIFA Voices; 3. HIFA Advocacy Programme). Full implementation of the HIFA Strategy will accelerate progress towards the HIFA Vision: a world where every person and every healthcare provider has access to the healthcare information they need to protect their own health and the health of those for whom they are responsible.
What does HIFA Voices contain?
1. HIFA Quotations: verbatim extracts from HIFA Global Forum messages. Each HIFA Quotation provides an individual perspective, idea or insight. To see the HIFA Quotation in its original message thread, follow the DGroups link from below the Quotation (requires registration with DGroups).
2. HIFA Citations (Formal): bibliographic records of relevant papers from peer-reviewed journals
3. HIFA Citations (Informal): bibliographic records of relevant reports, websites and conference proceedings
How are HIFA Voices selected?
HIFA Voices are selected according to their relevance to answering three critical questions:
1. What are the healthcare information and learning needs of different groups of healthcare providers in different settings?
2. What are the barriers and drivers to meeting those needs?
3. What must be done - and how - to improve the availability and use of relevant, reliable and actionable healthcare information?
‘Healthcare information’ here refers to the information that a healthcare provider needs to prevent, diagnose and manage disease, and thereby deliver appropriate care and save lives. The term ‘healthcare provider’ includes everyone responsible for preventive and curative health care, including citizens as well as health workers.
Additional related content may be included, for example on HRH issues and on the information needs of researchers and policymakers.
HIFA Quotations are currently selected and inputted by Neil Pakenham-Walsh (2014 messages) and Onikepe Owolabi (2013 messages). HIFA Citations (Kenya) are being selected by Nasra Gathoni. Inevitably, the current selection is partly subjective, and we look forward to explore ways to improve the process in the future. Inclusion or exclusion of content does not imply endorsement or otherwise by the inputter.
How can HIFA Voices be used?
We hope that planners and implementers of health information services, publications and library services worldwide will find HIFA Voices useful to help inform their work. HIFA Quotations have already been used to help inform the development of WHO Recommendations on Optimising Health Workers' roles for Maternal and Newborn Health. They were also used as the basis for a research paper: Stakeholder views on the incorporation of traditional birth attendants into the formal health systems of low-and middle-income countries: a qualitative analysis of the HIFA2015 and CHILD2015 email discussion forums
We hope also that HIFA Voices will encourage existing HIFA members to continue sharing their rich and diverse experience on the HIFA Global Forums, in the knowledge that their personal contributions have the potential to help inform policy and practice. For those who are not yet members, we invite you to join (free) via our main HIFA website. More than 9 in 10 people who have ever joined HIFA Forums since 2006 remain members today.
HIFA Voices also underpins our growing HIFA Advocacy Programme. In particular, we shall expand HIFA-Watch, our new initiative which monitors progressive and regressive action by governments in relation to the availability of healthcare knowledge. We have previously shown with the New York Law School that governments have a legal obligation under international human rights law to ensure that health professionals and citizens have access to the information they need to protect their own health and the health of others. We intend to hold governments to account on this obligation.
HIFA Voices is implemented by the HIFA Voices Working Group, with support from the HIFA Steering Group.
The project is being implemented by the HIFA Voices Working Group, with support from the HIFA Steering Group. Special thanks to our lead database developer Arjun Thandi of Evucan web solutions.
We are grateful to our colleagues at WHO Geneva, in particular Dr Najeeb Al-Shorbaji (Director, Knowledge, Ethics and Research) and Ian Roberts (Head Librarian) for their inputs into the HIFA Voices concept, which has evolved over the last 3 years. Implementation has only become possible thanks to support from The Lancet, Elsevier, mPowering Frontline Health Workers and Intel Corporation. Thank you also to Simon Lewin and the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services for previous support that enabled the development of a prototype version that was used to help inform WHO recommendations on optimising for maternal and newborn health (above). Thank you to HIFA volunteer and steering group member Onikepe Owolabi for her extensive work on HIFA Quotations, which led to the publication of our research paper on Traditional Birth Attendants (above).
We are also grateful to the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA), which has offered to provide technical assistance. Expert advisers include Ian Roberts (Head Librarian, WHO Headquarters), Pascal Mouhouelo (Head Librarian, WHO Africa Regional Office) and John Eyers (Emeritus Librarian, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine). AHILA, BMA, IMIA, Intrahealth International, LSHTM, MLA, Phi and WHO Africa Regional Office are all HIFA Supporting Organisations.
“I depend on the community knowledge of HIFA to stay in touch with the current state of health information. I keep many of the emails from the listserv in a folder for future reference so I can search for recommendations, lessons learned and underlying issues from my peers when I am researching a health topic. As this is such an important reference tool for me, I would find it very valuable if recommendations, lessons learned and underlying issues could be extracted by HIFA editors and organized in a searchable database.”Rebecca Rhodes, former manager of HRH Global Resource Center, IntraHealth International, USA