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When no access to biomedical journals is a limitation to tackle global poverty

Posted by plosmedicine on 31 Mar 2009 at 00:09 GMT

Author: Alfonso Rodriguez-Morales
Position: MD/Researcher
Institution: Universidad de Los Andes
Submitted Date: May 14, 2007
Published Date: May 15, 2007
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

I agree with the PloS Medicine Editors [1] in the fact that journals have been slow to realize their potential as a tool for reducing poverty and addressing global inequities, as well that most journals have done poorly at featuring the work of researchers from developing countries. But most journals work as private business. What is certainly surprising is that initiatives such as HINARI, as also commented Curioso et al [2], are not working forward to help to tackle global poverty giving access to all developing countries.

At least Peru and many other countries have benefited from a partial access to many biomedical journals, but other developing countries, where Venezuela is included, are completely excluded from access in these initiatives. In the eligibility criteria established by HINARI, local, not-for-profit institutions in two groups of countries may register for access to the journals through this initiative. The country lists are based on GNP per capita (World Bank figures, 2001). Institutions in countries with GNP per capita below $1000 are eligible for free access. Institutions in countries with GNP per capita between $1000-$3000 pay a fee of $1000 per year / institution [3]. Although the GNP per capita of developing countries, such as Venezuela, is higher than $3000, more than 80% of people living in conditions of poverty. More on medical schools are completely public and non-private funded. In countries like this, most medical students can afford access or subscription to biomedical journals, neither the medical libraries.

Currently in Venezuela, only one scientific library has an updated collection and access to top biomedical journals (located at the main scientific institution of the country), but in the rest of scientific and biomedical libraries, no access to current biomedical publications exist [4].

Similar situations occurred with other countries, is surprising but for HINARI are not eligible Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, India, Thailand, among others.

We (developing countries, all of us) need more access to biomedical journals, the launching of more open access journal and more extended initiatives to increase significantly the access to biomedical journals, to really have tools for tackle global poverty.

Alfonso J. Rodriguez-Morales


[1] The PLoS Medicine Editors (2006) How Can Biomedical Journals Help to Tackle Global Poverty? PLoS Med 3(8): e380.
[2] Curioso WH, Villafuerte-Gálvez J, Gayoso O (2007) HINARI access in Peru: A step backwards?. Letter, Response to The PLoS Medicine Editors (2006) How Can Biomedical Journals Help to Tackle Global Poverty?. PLoS Med 3(8): e380. (10 May 2007) [3] HINARI. URL:
[4] Rodriguez Morales AJ. Publicaciones Impresas, Publicaciones Online, Bibliotecas e Investigación: Donde estan sus relaciones? Rev Soc Med Quir Hosp Emerg Perez de Leon 2006; 37(1-2):1-2.

No competing interests declared.