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HINARI in Peru: backwards or misinformation(1)?

Posted by plosmedicine on 31 Mar 2009 at 00:12 GMT

Author: Gaby Caro
Position: Librarian
Institution: Pan American Health Organization. Representative in Peru
Submitted Date: August 06, 2007
Published Date: August 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 believe that the amount of information in HINARI available in Peru is more than worth the fee. I work for the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office in Peru. However, I am also a Peruvian who has been frustrated by the lack of access to current scientific information.

Even though I agree with Villafuerte-Gálvez et al.(2) when they say that much more needs to be done for medical researchers in developing countries, I strongly disagree with the results of their review. They report that they could not access journals from main Partner Publishers. What they do not report is that at the time they carried out their research, HINARI was experiencing severe technical problems. Mr. Gayoso was warned that this might have an effect on the study, and also a notice was posted prominently on the HINARI website. Nonetheless, they chose to ignore this issue, and did not consider it as a possible explanation of their findings. At the time I write this, the system and the authentication access are improving, though they are still not working at 100%; but journals of Wiley, Oxford and Blackwell are fully accessible in Peru.

As noted in HINARI's Statement of Intent, each publisher offers access to all or some of their journals but they are free to specify exceptional arrangements for each country.(3) Since the very beginning, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins and Nature chose not to be available for Peru. All Peruvian institutions were informed when they registered with HINARI. More recently, Peruvian users were informed that Elsevier, Annual Reviews and a few other publishers made the same choice.(4) Villafuerte-Gálvez et al. calculate that of the titles they state are still available (already pointed out as incorrect), most are "open-access journals or journals that make online access free to low-income countries"(5). This is misleading. HINARI includes less than 700 open access titles, which is less than 30% HINARI offers in Peru.

Today, 3773 titles from 70 publishers are participating.(6) Peru has 117 registered institutions, the third highest country in number.(7) Despite the improved authentication system, institutions subscribing to HINARI are not always receiving proper and timely services. HINARI team is a victim of its own success, and needs to find better ways to respond promptly to users. Despite the problems noted, HINARI remains a unique solution to access a wonderful collection of biomedical journals for a very low price.


(1) Johns Hopkins University. [Internet]. Baltimore, MD; Sheridan Libraries, c.2004. [cited 2007, July 7]. Information and Its Counterfeits: Propaganda, Misinformation and Disinformation. Available from: http://www.library.jhu.ed... [ http://www.library.jhu.ed... ]
(2) Villafuerte-Gálvez J, Curioso WH, Gayoso O. Biomedical Journals and Global Poverty: Is HINARI a Step Backwards? PLoS Medicine Vol. 4, No. 6, e220 doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040220 [ http://medicine.plosjourn... ]. [cited 2007, July 7].
(3) Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative [Internet]. Geneva; World Health Organization, c.2007. [cited 2007, July 7]. Publishers' Statement of Intent. Available from:
(4) HINARI Team []. Dec. 2006. E-mail sent to their subscribers.
(5) Villafuerte-Gálvez J, Curioso WH, Gayoso O. op cit.
(6) Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative [Internet]. op cit. [cited 2007, July 7]. List of HINARI Journals. Available from:
(7) HINARI Access to Research [Press Release]. 2500th Member Joins Developing Country Institutes with Low-Cost Access to World's Medical Literature. Geneva; May 18, 2007. [cited 2007, July 7]. Available from:

No competing interests declared.