Research4Life programmes show dramatic growth

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Three international programmes aimed at giving free or low-cost information access to researchers in the world's poorest countries have seen impressive growth in their numbers of registered institutions.

The three programmes come under the banner of Research4Life and are public-private partnership programmes of the WHO, FAO, UNEP, Cornell and Yale Universities and the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers. The programmes include 155 publishers and the technology partner Microsoft.

HINARI, which was the first programme to be formed in 2002, has seen its number of registrations grow by 61 per cent since 2006. Researchers at 3,866 not-for-profit institutions in 108 countries now have access to over 6,300 medical and health journals.

Registrations for AGORA (Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture), which was established in 2003, have increased by 77 per cent since 2006. It now provides researchers at 1,760 developing-world institutions with access to 1,276 food, agriculture, and related social sciences journals.

The newest of the three programmes, OARE (Online Access to Research in the Environment), has registered 1500 institutions since its launch in 2006, an increase of nearly 700 per cent.

Mohammed Atani, OARE technical officer at the United Nations Environment Program, said: 'It is positive to see the extent that developing nations are improving their research processes and creating expert professional and academic communities. By supporting scientific growth and productivity, these nations can improve their national economies, healthcare, higher education programs in environmental studies and increase their own research output.'