On August 5, an online session was held to announce the launching of a special supplement on Covid-19 by Revista Argentina de Salud Pública (RASP). The session was attended by officials from the Ministerio de Salud de la Nación, such as Santiago Torales, from the Health Research Directorate, and Sonia Tarragona, from the Undersecretary of Medicines and Strategic Information; by the PAHO/WHO Representative in the country, Maureen Birmingham, the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Marcelo Barbieri and, as a guest, Diego González, Director of the Latin American and Caribbean Center for Health Sciences Information (BIREME/PAHO/WHO ).
Not only did the online session present the special supplement on aspects related to public health at Covid-19 in Argentina, but it also showed the recent improvements introduced in the editorial management of the journal.
The session was opened by Santiago Torales, who, on behalf of the Ministerio de Salud de la Nación, welcomed everyone, presenting the program of the event. Then, the PAHO/WHO Representative, Maureen Birmingham, greeted the speakers and congratulated the Ministry on the initiative to develop the special supplement for the RASP, expressing that the Organization is honored to accompany this development, as it is a unique moment in the history of humanity. The Representative also stressed the crucial role of solidarity between scientists at national and international levels, the public and private sectors, and institutions worldwide to seek treatments and vaccines for Covid-19, in line with what the Director-General says. General of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. He also highlighted the role of Argentina in international cooperation in favor of medical solutions for the pandemic and stated that the RASP initiative is moving in this direction, by disseminating scientific evidence and quality research results, fighting infodemia.
Sonia Tarragona, of the Undersecretariat for Medicines and Strategic Information of the Ministry of Health of the country expressed her satisfaction with the launch of the magazine supplement, which represents for the Ministry an important step in the contribution of quality information and evidence to decision making and the facing the pandemic. He also congratulated all the professionals involved in the editorial management of RASP and whose work allowed the launch that is celebrated today.
Then, Marcelo Barbieri, Editor-in-Chief of RASP presented in general lines the evolution of the journal since its creation, in 2009 until the present. The publication is responsible for the Research Directorate of the Ministerio de Salud de la Nación and publishes its content in open access from the beginning. Its editorial policy is focused on the publication of articles from public health research financed with public resources in the country. It is currently indexed in the Basic Nucleus of Argentine Scientific Journals, SciELO Argentina, Latindex, LILACS, REDIB, Periódica and DOAJ.
Barbieri reported on the need to elaborate a supplement of the Magazine on Covid-19, essentially to become a scientific communication tool that serves for informed and evidence-based decision making in a pandemic context, in which it is necessary to have , as quickly as possible, timely and reliable scientific Information.
The purpose of the supplement is to publish scientific information validated by peer review on different aspects of public health related to the pandemic, from a clinical or health sciences perspective, including information on therapies and the health and social impact on health determinants of population. The publication is aimed at managers and teams of health professionals, communication professionals specialized in health (to inform the public based on scientific data) and the scientific community as a whole. The editor-in-chief also pointed out that from 2020, the Journal adopted the continuous publication mode, in which articles, as soon as they are approved, are published in a single annual volume and indexed in the databases, increasing their exposure to readers, and therefore, the probability of being cited, since they are not held back waiting to compose an issue. This method is in line with international practices currently adopted by most journals in favor of the immediate dissemination of research results. This is especially relevant for articles on Covid-19, where speedy information sharing can make all the difference.
The editor-in-chief of RASP also detailed the composition of the body of reviewers by area of knowledge and nature of institutional affiliations, and showing a screen shot of the first issue of the Supplement on Covid-19 of the Magazine, inviting the audience to know in detail the publication and closing his presentation, he acknowledged RASP’s entire editorial team.
Next, Santiago Torales presented the actions of the areas of the Directorate of Health Research for the management of research in Public Health in the context of the pandemic. There are three main topics underway at the moment: registration for scholarships under the Salud Investiga 2020-2021 program; the network of contacts with the Bioethics Committees of the provinces (states) and Covid-19 Research Observatories; and RASP: editorial adaptation and Supplement Covid-19, already detailed by Mauricio Barbieri.
The call for scholarships aims to promote research projects in public organizations and universities with a federal and participatory focus on the epidemiological reality generated by the Covid-19 pandemic and other topics on Public Health.
Research Ethics Committees work at a fast pace to analyze projects dealing with Covid-19, with the support of the Pan American Health Organization. The Covid-19 Research Observatory is a provincial record base developed in a collaborative format with the objective of speeding up the evaluation of proposals, communication between the committees to share data and speeding up the arrival of appropriate interventions to patients, following design, safety and reach conditions. Torales also stresses that it is necessary to fight the infodemia.
In this sense, affirms Torales, the mission of RASP as a scientific communication tool of the country’s Ministry of Health on Public Health in general and Covid-19 in particular acquires particular relevance when providing quality scientific information in open access oriented to meet the demand for reliable information for health decision makers, the scientific community and information professionals specialized in the dissemination of knowledge in the context of the current health emergency.
To conclude the session, Diego González, Director of BIREME, spoke about the importance of indexing in the Latin American Literature in Health Sciences (LILACS) database, which is one of the sources of information of the Virtual Health Library (VHL). González explained that LILACS is the most inclusive database in the area of health and of particular importance for the region of Latin America and the Caribbean (AL&C). International health databases such as PubMed and Medline, for example, do not index more than 1% of the scientific literature published in AL&C, in addition to referring to scientific articles. Unconventional documents, theses, books and monographs are not included, and as a result, much of the science produced in the region, which is relevant to countries, is not found in the international mainstream.
LILACS, besides being a reference database with links to the full text, is also a repository for storing and publishing full texts and a source for infographics of LA&C’s scientific output. The LILACS database, coordinated by BIREME and which will celebrate its 35th Anniversary in 2020, has selection and permanence criteria and the journals that apply are evaluated by a committee with representatives from the major health sciences areas. Active throughout LA&C, LILACS operates in a network following common methodologies and technologies. The LILACS Network offers technical and methodological support, training, develops new products and services and is constantly evolving.
The Director of BIREME also showed products developed by BIREME based on the LILACS methodology, such as the Global Index Medicus, to name just one example.
The presentations were followed by an interesting debate with the audience, indicating that the topics presented aroused the interest of the participants. The event was moderated by Flavio Hazrum, PAHO/WHO Argentina focal point for Information and Knowledge Management.
PAHO/WHO. El Ministerio de Salud de la Nación y OPS lanzan suplemento COVID-19 de la Revista Argentina de Salud Pública. 20.ago.2020. Available from: https://www.paho.org/es/noticias/20-8-2020-ministerio-salud-nacion-ops-lanzan-suplemento-covid-19-revista-argentina-salud (in Spanish)
Virtual Health Library. Launching of COVID-19 Special Supplement of Revista Argentina de Salud Pública. August 5, 2020. Available from: http://docs.bvsalud.org/multimedia/2020/08/6277/covid-19-opsarg_evento-rasp_2020-08-05_ppt-msal.pdf (in Spanish)