Donating books and journals to less developed countriesBMJ 2003; 326 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7384.298 (Published 08 February 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:298
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Trish Groves and colleagues have recently commented on the
‘information gap between rich and poor countries’ 1. One aspect of this
gap is the limited amount of research conducted in economically
developing countries by local scientific staff. In relation to mental
health research, for example, the proportion of research from developing
countries published in international indexed journals was found to be less
than 3% in a recent search conducted by WHO. A recent WHO seminar on
Research on Mental Health and Substance Abuse in Developing Countries,
found that such research is infrequent and does not follow a clear agenda.
There is particular lack of studies evaluating interventions suitable for
implementation in poorer settings.
The number of research centres in developing world countries able to
produce high quality mental health research can be counted on one hand.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is therefore initiating a programme
called ‘Research for Change’, and it will attach the highest priority to
interventional, operational and service organisational research. To this
end WHO supports the development of research infrastructure including
population laboratories for which sustained scientific, technical and
financial assistance is made available. North-South training opportunities
too often lead to a ‘brain-drain’ of talented researchers, and so South-
South links, and in situ training will be preferentially supported.
Peer-reviewed publication present particular problems. Much research
relevant to the developing world has little market in international
journals including the BMJ 2. Inadequate expertise in research and
statistical methods along with poor language and presentational
difficulties also act as barriers. Alternative channels of dissemination,
including the use of electronic media, are therefore identified by WHO as
early priorities. The links of research active staff through regional
networks will be actively pursued by WHO through expanding research
capacity in the WHO Fellowship Programme.
But perhaps the most significant impediment to progress is the low
level of investment, where the only sustained source of funding at present
is the pharmaceutical industry. The WHO will therefore convene a high
level donors’ meeting later this year for prospective donors including
research councils, governments, aid agencies, foundations/trusts,
pharmaceutical industry and other parties. The aim will be to enhance the
funds flow to mental health research programmes which produce evidence for
economically developing countries in those countries.
Professor Graham Thornicroft, Professor of Community Psychiatry,
Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London.
Dr. Shekhar Saxena, Co-ordinator, Mental Health: Evidence and Research,
Dr. Benedetto Saraceno, Director, Mental Health and Substance Dependence,
1 Groves T., Nicholas S. & Hudson J. (2003) Donating books and
journals to less developed countries. BMJ 2003;326:298
Competing interests: No competing interests
The NMF ( Nigerian Medical Forum) a UK registered health charity
since 1991,benefitted from the BMJ / BMA donation of books right in 1995
after a joint BMJ/NMF feasibilty trip to Lagos, Nigeria to pave the way
for the launch of BMJ West Africa edition. The delegation visited several
libraries and hospitals in the city and as a result of what the delegation
saw in the so-called libraries, the BMJ sent a large consignment of books
to these centres as soon as the delegation came back to the U.K. This
generousity by BMJ continued in 2001 and 2002 when The NMF piloted its
Library and Books programme in two states of the Federation of Nigeria. We
are glad to know that the programme is benefitting several other poor
countries of the third world ( and centres in U.K )too as contained in
this editorial by Trish Groves and John Hudson. End-users in Nigeria
highly appreciate and are grateful to BMJ / BMA for their kind and
exemplary donations. Plans are in advanced stages for The NMF to extend
its Library and Books programme beyond the two pilot states in Nigeria in
the next two years.
Joseph Ana is a pioneer, volunteer Trustee-Director of The NMf ( Nigerian Medical Forum) a charity which has benefitted from the BMJ/BMA books donation project
Competing interests: No competing interests