BIREME Bulletin n°6: Special issue 50th anniversary

History of the governance

Since it was established, BIREME/PAHO/WHO has always been advised by Committees established in the Agreements, which were its governance instruments until the approval of its new institutionality through Resolution 5 of the 49th Directing Council (CD49.R5) of PAHO/WHO, held in in Washington D.C., USA, in 2009.

In the beginning, the committees had a scientific nature, were formed by high-level representatives from the international community of information science and health professionals. They met annually to advise the Director of BIREME on technical aspects regarding policy, programming, administration, and assessment of the Library’s activities.

From 1978, besides the scientific committee, the National Advisory Committee (CAN) was also established to advise Director of BIREME/PAHO/WHO on programming and developing activities in Brazil. This Committee comprised representatives of the signatories of the then Maintenance and Development Agreement of the Regional Library of Medicine and Health Sciences (Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, SĂŁo Paulo State Health Secretariat and Escola Paulista de Medicina).

In 1982, the Maintenance and Development Agreement of BIREME – Latin American and Caribbean Center for Health Sciences Information (already reflecting the new scope of its mission) established that the Advisory Scientific Committee should start guiding BIREME’s international component, while the CAN should contribute to the programming and development of the Center’s activities in Brazil.

Since 1986, only CAN has remained in the governance structure of the Center, and after the Agreement was signed in December 1999, the CAN meetings started to be held twice a year, always with the participation of representatives of the signatories of the Agreement.

The new institutionality of BIREME/PAHO/WHO, effective as of January 2010, defines in its Statute the governance structure that establishes the Advisory and Scientific Committees to perform advisory functions to the Director of PAHO/WHO, supporting the performance of the programmatic, managerial and technical cooperation functions.

Up to 2014, even during the period when the new Statute was already in effect, the CAN meetings continued to be held twice a year, with the presence of representatives of the signatories of the Agreement. The Advisory Committee has had already six sessions since its installation on  August 31st, 2010, as shown in Table 1.


The Scientific Committee has already met twice since its installation on July 25, 2013, in a meeting held in BIREME headquarters, with the participation of specialists from Brazil, Canada, Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, and the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). The 2nd Session took place on August 14, 2014, also in BIREME headquarters with the participation of specialists from Brazil, Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, and NLM. The 3rd Session is scheduled to be held in the second half of 2017, and its members have been selected during the 6th Session of the Advisory Committee, considering their expertise in different fields of interest for BIREME: Information Management; Education and Knowledge Management; Scientific Communication; and Information Technology. The Committee is formed by representatives from Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Jamaica and Mexico.


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