Called by the Community of Practice of the Virtual Health Library of Puerto Rico, representatives of the Caribbean Virtual Health Libraries met in order to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of BIREME and its role in the dissemination of health information through the VHL. The celebration occurred in the framework of the Conferencia Anual de la Asociación de Bibliotecas Universitarias, de Investigación e Institucionales del Caribe (ACURIL 2017) [Annual Conference of the Association of Caribbean University, Research and Institutional Libraries], which central topic this year was “Multidisciplinary Research in the Caribbean”.
The event was an opportunity to present the Virtual Health Library (VHL) developed by the Caribbean countries, such as Cuba, Guiana, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago and Puerto Rico. Dr Raul Castellanos-Bran, Coordinator of PAHO/WHO in Puerto Rico, was in charge of opening the celebration with special greetings to BIREME staff for its 50th Anniversary, and special acknowledgements for the technical cooperation developed with Puerto Rico. He also mentioned the coincidence of the date with the 25th Anniversary of the PAHO/WHO Coordination Office in Puerto Rico. Dr Rafael Rodríguez Mercado, Health Secretary, was represented by Dr Roberto Rosso Quevedo, who stressed the importance of BIREME in training health information professionals and talked about VHL in Puerto Rico.
Similarly, different participants expressed their satisfaction for the opportunity to work with the Latin American and the Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information and acknowledged its potential in working with their countries. Much emphasis was given on saying that the main strength of all information-related work depends on the building of networks. Some testimonials related to BIREME 50th Anniversary are listed below:
Carmen M. Santos-Corrada, Coordinator of VHL Puerto Rico said “BIREME has given the rules, it has set out the guidelines and it has carried out an extraordinary social work organizing and giving access to the information published by our countries.”
Ernesta Greenidge, Head of the Medical Sciences Library at the University of West Indies, in Trinidad and Tobago, stated: “I am very pleased to congratulate BIREME on 50 years of excellence on service in health information. We are pleased that we have been assisted both with the Virtual Health Library of Trinidad and Tobago and also with the MedCarib database which covers the English speaking countries in the Caribbean, as well as Suriname. Congratulations BIREME and thank you so much for all your assistance during this years.”
BIREME was represented by its Director Dr Diego González Machín, who gave a presentation entitled “BIREME: Overview of 50 years of history”. Dr González underlined the advances and challenges of this PAHO/WHO specialized Center, which has fulfilled its mission of democratizing access to information, knowledge and scientific evidence for the health of the people in Latin America and the Caribbean.
On June 8th, 2017, called upon by Dr. Luisa Vigo- Cepeda from the Executive Secretariat of ACURIL, the participants met to discuss the “ACURIL Declaration of San Juan, Puerto Rico”, with the main goal of establishing that at every ACURIL event celebrated every year, a meeting with the Caribbean VHL instances should be held with the participation of BIREME. The results of these meetings should also be taken to the Regional Conferences of Health Sciences Information (CRICS) periodically organized by BIREME.
Concluding his mission, the Director of BIREME, Dr. González Machín, together with PAHO/WHO officials in the country, Dr. Castellanos and Ms. Samira Sánchez Alemán, Planning Analyst, held meetings with Dr. Irma I. Quiñones Maurás, Director of Conrado Asenjo Library, from the Medical Sciences Faculty of the University of Puerto Rico, a VHL Cooperating Center in Puerto Rico. Another meeting was also held with Dr. Hiram V. Arroyo, Full Professor and Director of the Collaborating Center of PAHO/WHO for the Training and Research in Health Promotion and Education. Finally, another meeting was held with the Deputy Secretary of Health, Dr. Concepción Quiñones de Longo, who said that “Nowadays Puerto Rico faces great challenges and we need the cooperation from our collaborators and allies. This administration has the clear purpose of strengthening relations with PAHO in order to structure projects based on our current realities. With this regard, the component of information management is extremely important and we wish to continue with our close relations with BIREME/PAHO/WHO.”