I oblige to thank Prof. Nicholas Cunningham, for reminding us the important issues of growth chart and Road to Health.
Making health research available
At the core of the conclusions reached by the Lancet Commission on the future of health in sub-Saharan Africa published last September is a sense of possibility for what Africans can and must accomplish to level their populations' health with the rest of the world's by 2030. Among the key requirements are the home-bred, tailored solutions that a greater local research capacity and leadership would produce to respond to the challenges ahead. At the first Epicentre Niger Scientific Day held in Niamey on January 25, there were signs that the message is on point and the optimism justified.
Within a context categorised by an already small emergency medicine research output, one in six African emergency care publications is inaccessible to African researchers.
This was the finding of a paper published by Associate (now visiting) Professor Stevan Bruijns together with two undergraduate health science students, Mmapheladi Mosly Maesela and Suniti Sinha.
The research was conducted during Bruijns’s special study module with the second-year students.
I don't know how we can go beyond journals. In addition to the fact that journals fulfil a limited need, many African health practitioners are too overwhelmed to seat down and write an article on their daily experiences & tie this with broad health literature. If we limit knowledge sharing to journals and their rigorous reviewing processes, we miss a lot of real-time 'truths'. Emphasis on journals suggest the written word is the only way knowledge about health issues can travel.
All my career years in WHO (over 29 years) I always believed that the electronic publishing should not replace paper based publishing. They should complement each other. Publishers who think that electronic publishing should replace paper publishing are wrong. I made this position very clear and implemented it when I was director in WHO.
Many will be familiar with the need for "research to policy" or R2P. But that in itself is a shortened form of "research to policy to practice" or R2P2P. Clearly, health policies should be based on the best and most appropriate research. But that is not enough. If sound health policies don't then go into clinical practice, they are just empty words. Effort needs to be devoted to each link in this chain.
Najeeb al-Shorbaji hit the nail on the head last year when he wrote in a submission to this email list: "Health workers and most practitioners in the field do not need scientific articles written by academicians. They need practical information, best practices, case studies, stories from the field, lessons learned and guidance on how to do things".
At Africa Health journal, that is precisely what we have tried to do since launch in October 1978.
Slow internet connection is a big challenge for health workers, researchers, authors and policy makers in LMICs. Equally, if not bigger, is the challenge of cost of the internet access especially if one tries to download materials. Reliability and consistency of connection adds to the list especially when using conferencing tools like Skype, etc. The light at the end of the tunnel is the fact that only a few years ago ( in 1995 only a handful of people had emails in Nigeria) we never thought that we would even be where we are today.