BIREME Bulletin n° 61

An article on MedCarib Database that BIREME contributes historically

MedCarib is a database comprising health information published in scientific journals from the English-speaking Caribbean countries and Suriname as a result of the cooperation of the MedCarib Network whose current coordinator is Victoria Cruishank-Taylor, from CARPHA (Caribbean Public Health Agency). This database also contributes with records to the Latin American and the Caribbean Health Science Literature (LILACS) database that comprises around 900 health journals from all countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

An article[1] on MedCarib Database that BIREME contributed with has been recently published in the Caribbean Library Journal reporting and analyzing its main achievements and challenges, based on Trinidad and Tobago’s perspective. Trinidad and Tobago together with Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica and other English-speaking Caribbean countries participate on the strengthening and maintenance of MedCarib database.

The authors emphasized that many challenges faced – as well as its achievements – throughout the years by MedCarib can be attributed to the nature of the endeavor, a collaboration between many health science institutional libraries, which were outlines at a workshop[2] reviewing its history from 1989 to date.

MedCarib’s inception can be placed in 1989, when a technical cooperation initiative between the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information (BIREME) and the University of West Indies, Mona campus, Jamaica. It was aimed at collecting, indexing, and compiling health-related literature from each participating country. The purpose behind the project was to provide the latest health information to practitioners which are challenging to obtain in places where resources are constrained. Nonetheless, MedCarib does not fully qualify as an open access resource, however, it can be viewed as a hybrid open access database, as it does not always provide access to the article’s full text.

It is important to highlight that MedCarib database does not include only articles from scientific journals, but also non-conventional documents (grey literature) about health literature in print or electronic form produced by Latin American and the Caribbean authors, as its coverage follows the LILACS Methodology. Moreover, participating countries are encouraged to contribute published or unpublished data into the database covering a broad spectrum of evidence-based information for a cross-section of medical and health professionals.

According to the authors1, “MedCarib database has the potential to be a repository of medical and health research from the English-speaking Caribbean and Suriname. This potential can only be fully realized if there is greater collaboration, more contributions and promotion of the database. Once these areas are addressed BIREME’s MedCarib database will be poised to be reflective of health data from the region”.

Please access the article for the complete description and historical information on MedCarib database as well as its challenges and recommendations to keep the sustainability of this initiative that will continue to be supported by BIREME.


[1] A. A. Cumberbatch, B. Adams-Baptiste and R. Ganessingh. 2021. BIREME’s MedCarib Database: Surviving the Challenges Experienced in Trinidad and Tobago. Caribbean Library Journal 6:64-79.

[2] MEDCARIB. (2017, June 22). Reviewing progress and charting a way forward Medical/Health Literature in the English-speaking Caribbean. (2017, June 22). Address presented by Ernesta Greenidge at MedCarib workshop at The University of the West Indies, Faculty of Medical Sciences, St. Augustine.


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