In 2016, the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (BIREME/PAHO/WHO) celebrated its 49th anniversary, and maintains its status of a reference institution in the processes of promoting, strengthening and expanding the flow of scientific and technical information in health in Latin America and the Caribbean (LA&C). The Center works in close cooperation with over two thousand national institutions.
The Virtual Health Library (VHL) and its associated networks, such as the Public Health Virtual Campus (CVSP), Evidence Informed Policy Network (EVIPNet), Ethical Revision of Investigation (ProEthos), Global Index Medicus (GIM), among others, its sources of information DeCS (Health Sciences Descriptors), LILACS (Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature), projects, information products and services, characterize this cooperation at local, regional and global levels. There are over 25.7 million documents available through the VHL, and 9 million of them can be accessed as full text. In 2016, the volume of access to this information, only at the regional level of VHL, accounted for more than 6.6 million hits that generated over 36 million pages visited, according to Google Analytics.
Making the VHL and its information services more user-friendly was one of the challenges in 2016. Important advances were achieved in this area and they are reflected in the different VHL portals. Some examples include the Nursing VHL at regional level, the São Paulo State and Municipality Health Secretariats VHLs in Brazil, in addition to the Colombia VHL at the national level, just to mention a few initiatives.
BIREME also managed to continue cooperating with technical and scientific information management projects at the national level in coordination with PAHO/WHO Brazil, with particular emphasis on support for the development of Brazil VHL within the framework of Cooperation Term 50 (TC50) for the Qualidade do Sistema Único de Saúde (QUALISUS), which also includes the strengthening, management and promotion of thematic initiatives such as the Adolescence VHL, RIPSA VHL, Public Health VHL, Ministry of Health VHL, Nursing VHL and Homeopathy VHL.
The technological development was also present during the year, leading to improvement of processes and services in health information management through the VHL, which contributed to democratization of access to scientific knowledge – the core business of BIREME. This year has been marked by updating methodologies and technologies that strengthen BIREME’s technical cooperation and leads to better products and services that empower its users. Significant advances were obtained in the development and use of tools for management, analysis and visualization of scientific and technical production data published in the VHL. These developments resulted in innovations on how information available at the VHL can be accessed, analyzed and used.
The year of 2016 was also characterized by the Center moving to new headquarters in the city of São Paulo and by the new leadership, under the responsibility of Dr Diego González Machín, as from the end of July, who continues to strengthen BIREME’s performance by promoting alliances and work in network with the governmental and academic institutions, and of the different thematic networks not only of the health sector.
Dr Diego González stated that “2016 has been a year of many challenges for BIREME but also many advances, lessons learned and repositioning the Center’s mission as a center of excellence in scientific and technical information for Latin America and the Caribbean working closely with different technical areas of PAHO/WHO headquarters, PAHO/WHO country offices, WHO and its Regional Offices”.