Library and Information Networks for Knowledge

African Index Medicus

In order to give access to information published in or related to Africa and to encourage local publishing, the Association for Health Information and Libraries in Africa (AHILA) with the technical support of the World Health Organization has produced an international index to African health literature and information sources. This index is called African Index Medicus (AIM).

Why index African literature?

The need for improved access to what has been published on health issues in African countries has long been felt by researchers, development agencies, health administrators and planners both inside and outside the continent. Very few African health and biomedical information sources are included in the world's leading bibliographic databases and there is a wealth of untapped information in books, reports and studies from international development agencies, nongovernmental organizations and local institutions.

Only by awareness of what work has already been done, can further advances be made; giving visibility to locally published material avoids overlapping, conflicting or redundant research work or the unnecessary duplication of health learning materials. New studies would then build on earlier reports of projects or research already undertaken. This would reduce costs of duplicated efforts, improve on methodology earlier used and make research more cost-beneficial and original.

Printed knowledge generated in African countries is given global exposure in the African Index Medicus. It will promote African publishing by encouraging writers to publish in their country or regional journals, whereas now scientists and researchers in developing countries are competing for publication space in the few world-wide "prestigious" journals.

The traditional North-South flow of information could be complemented by South-South and South-North communication: information on health problems in one country will be shared with those experiencing similar conditions.