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Translating Knowledge Into Practice

Librarians Customize Information for Uganda’s Rural Health Clinics

Maria Musoke, Makerere University | Mar 01, 2011

At Makerere University in Uganda, finding ways to share knowledge and information throughout a country with limited Internet access is nothing less than an institutional priority. Maria Musoke is the University Librarian at Makerere and Albert Cook Medical Library, Uganda’s major Health Sciences library. She travels regularly with a team of doctors, nurses and midwives to train rural health workers, inform community members, and influence health outcomes.

Working through a three-year, $100,000 Elsevier Foundation grant, Maria has also taken on an existing triennial medical digest produced by Albert Cook Medical Library. Librarians develop or repackage information within the digest to support field visits and solve community-based health problems. The digest features information culled specifically to address major health concerns, such as malaria and other common causes of illnesses, in the areas served — areas with limited or no access to online resources.

“If the information is new and has been repackaged, the patients benefit because they get current treatment, and if it’s current treatment it means better results,” says Dr. Kijjambu Amos, Mpigi Health Centre.

Maria Musoke notes, “Our project combines information services with field activity, offering a clear model of how librarians in developing countries can reach out to rural health workers with great impact on health outcomes. One of our goals is also to show how global knowledge can be repackaged to suit local conditions and meet the information needs of Ugandan health workers. And I think we’re making some progress.”

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