9º Congreso Mundial de Información en Salud y Bibliotecas

Salvador, Bahia - Brasil, 20 a 23 de septiembre de 2005


4a. Reunión de Coordinación Regional de la BVS

19 y 20 de septiembre de 2005


Access to Information for Equity and Health (opening ceremony) - oiga el resumen del primer día en español

Oiga la noticia en formato de MP3

This was the main theme focused on the Opening Ceremony of ICML9. “Digital information and communication are great developments that are not going to solve humankind’s problems”, said keynote speaker

With “Commitment to Equity as its focus, the 9th International Congress on Medical Librarianship (ICML9) opened last night in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. Held for the first time in Latin America, it brings together health and communication professionals from over 50 different countries. During the 3-day conference the participants will have the opportunity to discuss how to distribute the existing scientific knowledge and information in order to improve access for health professionals, researchers and the general population, as well as supporting the decision and policy-makers. The ICML9 will incorporate a number of regional and national meetings, including the 4th Latin American and Caribbean Congress on Health Sciences Information, CRICS4.


After participants being formally welcomed by representatives of local and national authorities, Mirta Roses, Director of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), addressed the audience through a video recording. She stressed the nature of knowledge and information as public goods that need to be administered by public bodies and agencies. “Being deprived of information flows is the worst of exclusions”, she said, calling for the improvement of policies and public programs in order to foster these flows and their accessibility.


In her opinion, inequity is the root of all health problems in Latin America. Exclusion from information and knowledge hinders improvement of life conditions and it affects not only the health of the more disadvantaged sections of the population, but of society at large.


Inequity leads to an undermining of the social capital - trust and cohesion among people and groups. Forty percent of the Latin American population lives under the line of poverty, and it is essential to understand poverty not only as the lack of material means, but also as the lack of opportunities and choice. Strategies for improvement must include empowerment of the population, which can only be achieved through greater information that will help them gain their status as social actors. Programs for digital inclusion must be put in place, developing information structures with locally adapted contents, as well as virtual communities to tackle specific issues.


Making information universally available will help towards overcoming the know-do gap. Here is where the internet-based Virtual Health Library (VHL), created in 1998 by BIREME/PAHO/WHO.


Also Ariel Pablos, Director of the WHO’s Program for Knowledge Management and Sharing, addressed the issue of the digital divide between what is known and what is actually done. Bridging the know-do gap in global health would require improved access to information; translating knowledge into action; sharing and reapplying experiential knowledge; and leveraging e-health in developing countries.


In her keynote address, Lúcia Santaella, Communication and Semiotics Professor at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo (PUC), highlighted the “culture of access” that has resulted from the information revolution.


The history of transformations experienced in the last decades can be compared to the introduction of mercantilism after feudalism. This culture of access places us in the midst of a technological, but also cultural, revolution that has been described as the 3rd evolutionary cycle of Homo Sapiens. Hypertext has broken the linear character of communication and turns the user into a co-author. Networks are virtual communities that give rise to collective intelligence, resembling more and more a human brain.


Interactivity has challenged the central tenets of communication. Information can no longer be discussed without considering how it is being received and what the user is going to do with it. Communication has become a pivotal science, and no field of knowledge can be developed without taking it into account. The digital revolution has turned communication into a planetary, universal phenomenon. The health field was actually at the avant-garde of the digital revolution. Many of the first web sites created at the beginning of internet were devoted to health issues. Nowadays there is a multitude of information exchange groups that work on self-help, treatment and even diagnose.  Santaella strongly believes that “digital information and communication are great developments that are not going to solve humankind’s problems, because they are unsolvable, but its enormous potential must certainly be explored and exploited. And the tragedy of digital exclusion can never be overstated. Communication has a key role to play if the Millennium Goal of “Health for All” is ever to be achieved.”