Health Information Networks are essential to strengthen and extend the work carried out by BIREME in favor of the VHL, LILACS, DeCS, and all information sources that contribute to the democratization of access and visibility of scientific knowledge in health in countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (LA&C). These networks bring together information science professionals from cooperating institutions from all LA&C countries, the United States, Spain, Portugal, Mozambique, and other countries, who need coordination, planning, mobilization, and spaces for exchanging experiences.
In times of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Networks in all countries were even more active and responded to the call of PAHO and WHO for the dissemination of reliable information and evidence to face the pandemic itself, as well as the infodemic. The coordination, planning, mobilization, and creation of spaces for the exchange of the Networks’ experiences were more necessary than ever – the virtual became reality! In this way, BIREME, as the regional coordinator of this large Network of Networks, launched on March 9th the 2022 Network Calendar of Meetings, which includes 35 sessions distributed in 3 axes: Network Work Coordination; Best Practices of the Editorial Process; and Access and Use of Information. All sessions will take place virtually on Wednesdays at 12:00 pm (Brasilia time).
For the inauguration of the Calendar, Dr. Sebastián Garcia Saisó, Director of the Department of Evidence and Intelligence for Action in Health (EIH) and Interim Director of BIREME, gave a presentation that highlighted the importance of information networks for the development of BIREME’s products and services. Silvia Valentin, Administration and Planning Manager at BIREME, started the session by welcoming the participants: “we are very honored with your participation, which will greatly enrich this event in a very opportune way, because it takes place in the month in which BIREME celebrates 55 years of its foundation, which is also in the context of the 120th anniversary of the Pan American Health Organization. Furthermore, on March 27th, the Virtual Health Library turns 24 years old. Thus, it is a very important month that marks several aspects of BIREME’s historical trajectory, it is very important that this opening event of the annual meetings calendar takes place precisely in the month of March”.
Afterwards, Verônica Abdala, Manager of Services and Information Sources at BIREME, spoke about “How are we going to proceed in 2022”, presenting the main courses of action of the BIREME Work Plan for the 2022-2023 Biennium, which are linked to the topics included in the schedule of the Network Calendar of Meetings. Veronica stated that “what unites us in this collaborative network work is coordination, the methodologies we use, the products and services we develop”.
During the event, the launch of the commemorative stamp celebrating the 55th anniversary of BIREME was also carried out, which presented the opportunity for emotional testimonies from some representatives of the Networks. Finally, the final considerations of the event were made by Dr. Sebastian Garcia Saisó.
Testimonials from Network Focal Points
Flavio Hazrum, librarian in the field of Knowledge Management of PAHO/WHO in Argentina, talks about cooperation in networks in his country. “Collaborative work in our country related to networks in health libraries has celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2021 – coinciding with our LILACS database. The experience in these years of work shows that cooperating in a network constitutes a real challenge that consists of establishing work teams, objectives, and constant training. For this, we have the presence of a Coordinating Center such as the Biblioteca de la Academia Nacional de Medicina de Buenos Aires (Library of the National Academy of Medicine of Buenos Aires) and working groups linked to the selection and indexing of journals for LILACS, technical support and meetings and training. Without this conjunction, it would not be possible to achieve the proposed objectives. In the context of a pandemic, our Network has precisely reformulated the permanence requirements of its cooperating centers in order to achieve our objectives: generate training and training spaces; make use of BIREME methodologies; cooperating with the databases and disseminating the work carried out have been our premises. At the regional level, the role of BIREME as a PAHO Specialized Center is twofold in this case: on the one hand, it provides us with the methodologies, platforms, guides, and training spaces so that the libraries that are part of the Network can make available its institutions’ production at the national, regional, and international levels. On the other hand, it is our area of contention at the work level to discuss the opportunities and challenges that we have as professionals from knowledge management to be able to lead the opening to scientific evidence in health for all the Americas. Many thanks for this!”
“It is a great joy for Colombia to share this space of recognition of BIREME’s work and its leadership in the development of strategies aimed at strengthening information networks and collaborative work, present in this space and that we can evidence through models decentralized as the regional instance, and the national and thematic instances of the VHL. Today I would like to extend my most sincere thanks to BIREME for its support in the work we have been carrying out to strengthen the network and generate important academic and research visibility spaces that promote and contribute to knowledge management, supported decision-making in health and equity in access to information; increasing the impact of the model in the country, through joint work with public and private institutions that prioritize the health and well-being of the population. Additionally, we continue to work collaboratively in a network, concentrating on the visibility and sustainability of the instance, seeking greater linkage of technical cooperation actions to benefit from the virtues of the model. I reiterate my thanks and congratulate BIREME for its 55 years, especially its team of collaborators, who have made cooperative and collaborative networking possible and important, in addition to PAHO for its 120 years promoting health in the region.” Testimony of Ana Lorena Niño Téllez, Colombia VHL Project Coordination.
Prof. Dr. Francisco Lana, Coordinator of the International Nursing VHL, congratulated the BIREME team for 55 years and wished “a long and fruitful life to continue with the strengthening of health information networks in Latin America and the Caribbean. I would like to express how important it was for Nursing to align with the initiatives in networks proposed by BIREME, especially the VHL Model. Nursing VHL was created in 2005 in Brazil and, in 2012, it expands and reaches the international scenario, with its network present in seven countries (Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay, Portugal, Argentina, and Bolivia). Its network has been expanding and its projects have gained visibility and institutional sustainability supported by a governance structure that has been solidified every year, with each initiative under construction in a collaborative and decentralized way, with emphasis on: International Committee for journals Evaluation – with autonomy for the selection and permanence of journals for the BDENF and LILACS databases – around 56 indexed journals; bibliographic control of scientific literature with 43,576 records, 7,784 theses and dissertations; REV@ENF portal, 14 journals indexed in the SciELO methodology; three Windows of Knowledge (History of Nursing, Nursing and COVID-19 and Nursing Work in the Nursing Now context); nine Thematic Areas; Infometrics, and Clinical Protocol Guidelines, among others. It is worth mentioning that the application of the recent Maturity Instrument, that allowed Nursing VHL to create an International Network of Librarians, the creation of the International Advisory Committee and the updating of the Cooperation Matrix, providing the creation of new projects: “Professional Development” and “Research and Innovation”, in partnership with PAHO Collaborating Centers at the National School of Nursing and Midwifery at UNAM/Mexico and USP Ribeirão Preto School of Nursing, respectively. Finally, Nursing VHL thanks BIREME for its support in these 17 years of partnership, which has allowed the strengthening of the process of systematization and dissemination of Nursing literature and the consequent preservation of this literature in Latin America and Ibero-American countries”.
Victoria Cruickshank Taylor, Communications Officer at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) stated “If anything, COVID-19 has underscored the need for sharing information and learning from each other to ensure better health and wellbeing. Highlighting that Networking is not abstract but a way of living and learning to help keep each other safe. This can only be done by increasing communication, having forums for accessing information, considering innovative approaches so that we can all succeed. In this context, the Bireme Virtual Health Library, of which MedCarib is a part, is an important networking tool for the Caribbean Region. It allows for information produced in, about and by persons in the region to be discoverable and accessible. The VHL structure also provides a springboard for the development of other initiatives that contribute to this networking and collaborative approach like the Caribbean Public Health Agency’s Evidence Portal. The Region has recently been presented with the opportunity for a Caribbean Virtual Health Library which seeks to, in one place, give visibility to the research efforts of the region under one umbrella while giving prominence to each country’s individuality. I wish to thank BIREME for their vision and constant striving to network and collaborate with the Caribbean and wish them every success as they engage in the implementation of their 2022 annual calendar of meetings to strengthen health information networks in Latin America and the Caribbean”.
For Martha Cecilia García, Coordinator of the Biblioteca Médica Nacional de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (National Medical Library of the National Autonomous University of Honduras), “the work with BIREME has been very fruitful for the country. In 2021, the Pilot Study – Good practices in the editorial processes of scientific journals in Honduras for LILACS stands out, in which 5 national journals participated with great support from the BIREME-LILACS team, with specific recommendations and training for their strengthening, which allows them not to only the permanence in LILACS but to see other possibilities of indexing and visibility. The VHL Honduras is a benchmark for information in the health area in the country. With the BIREME team, work has been done on the new VHL portal, whose launch is planned for World Health Day. Our thanks and congratulations to the BIREME team, on its 55th anniversary, PAHO’s 120th, its support has been constant and valuable in the trajectory of the health information units of Honduras, our commitment to continue working under this collaboration strategy”.
Calendar opening session
The inauguration of the annual calendar of meetings for the strengthening of information networks in Latin America and the Caribbean took place on March 9th, with the participation of around 250 people from more than 10 countries in the region, and a simultaneous translation service was offered for English, Portuguese, and Spanish.
The calendar with the 2022 schedule of meetings with the Networks, as well as the recordings of the virtual sessions, the presentations, and other materials are available on the VHL Network Portal.