BIREME Bulletin n¬į6: Special issue 50th anniversary

A bit of history

As it turns 50 years old in 2017, BIREME/PAHO/WHO, a specialized Center of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization, celebrates its important journey of effective contribution to the flow of scientific and technical information in health in the Latin America and Caribbean region, as well as the consolidation of its mission to contribute for the development of health by means of strengthening, expanding, disseminating  and producing networks of sources of information on health sciences.

To date, its new institutional framework and new facilities characterize and recognize the specificities of its governance and operation, which have remained sustainable for five decades, especially in the cooperative work of 37 countries and 2,000 organizations in and outside the Region. In this manner, by celebrating its existence and history, all its leaders, organizational sponsors, employees, and other stakeholders are also the highlights of this occasion, congratulating and paying tribute to everyone for the joint effort.

From 1967 to 2017, BIREME management and technical cooperation stood out, converging the strategies, policies and procedures defined by PAHO/WHO to meet the priorities of the countries in the Region, which support the national policies, programs and projects favoring health, including access to information.


Then, from past to present, it is necessary to recognize everyone for their contribution, commitment and responsibility in the development, production and maintenance of countless and representative projects, products, services, events, and network collaboration, which remain effective for the management and democratization of access to health information. The main highlights along its history are the Virtual Health Library Network (VHL), the Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature (LILACS) that complements the international indexes such as MEDLINE (international database for biomedical literature) and Web of Science; the Cooperative Document Access Service (SCAD); the  Scientific Electronic Library Online Program (SciELO), and the Regional Congress on Health Sciences Information Series (CRICS).

The organization today

Currently, the Center’s new institutional framework is effective and it is being implemented. ¬†The document which defines it (ref. CD49.R5) is the Statute of BIREME, the result of a consultation process conducted by PAHO/WHO both internally and with its Member States, particularly Brazil, under the leadership of the Ministry of Health. The Statute sets forth the governance instances that are in full operation with authorities representatives and specialists from Latin America and Caribbean countries:

  • The Advisory Committee (AC) meant to assist the Director of PAHO in topics related to BIREME working program and financial sustainability. The Advisory Committee is formed by five members; PAHO and the Government of Brazil are permanent members. The other members are elected by the Directing Council, which currently include representaives from Argentina, Jamaica, Panama, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago. The countries have two- and three-year terms in order to assure continuity in the rotation of non-permanent members in the future.
  • The Scientific Committee (SC) is designed to assist the Director of PAHO and the Advisory Committee in topics pertaining to policies, management, products, services, methodologies and technologies related to scientific information and communication. The Scientific Committee is appointed by the Advisory Committee and currently has specialists from Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Jamaica, and Mexico.
  • The Secretariat is a permanent body responsible for BIREME executive management, including financial execution and the work plan. The Secretariat comprises the Director and technical and administrative staff.

The new institutional framework replaces the former one, which was first established on March 3rd, 1967, between the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and organizations representing the Government of Brazil, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, S√£o Paulo State Health Secretariat and the Federal University of S√£o Paulo (UNIFESP). BIREME was headquartered at the UNIFESP campus until March 2016.

The 50 years of BIREME as a specialized center of PAHO/WHO are the evidence of its continuing evolution, through different management paradigms for scientific and technical information, with regional and international visibility and impact.

Congratulations to BIREME and to everyone for the collective accomplishments and results!



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