Librarians save lives in Kenya

Librarians save lives ! The latest example is Book Aid International’s (BAI ) three year project with public libraries in Kenya. It focuses on preventing deaths during pregnancy, birth or unsafe abortions.

According to the World Health Organisation every day in 2008 1,000 women died in these ways, 570 of them in sub-Saharan Africa. The highest rates of child mortality are found there too, with one in eight children dying before their fifth birthday.

Yet, says BAI, two thirds of these deaths could be avoided if healthcare providers had access to simple, inexpensive interventions- and, crucially, the knowledge to use them correctly.

Funded by the Elsevier Foundation, the Kenya project works with five public libraries each year. The focus is developing librarians’ skills to assess and meet health workers’ information needs. They have access to the internet and books from BAI.

The libraries involved so far report ” notable changes to the way they provide information to health care workers, and significant increases in the numbers using their services “.

As well as books, librarians have been trained to assess online health information on topical issues such as breastfeeding, malaria, water sanitation and HIV/Aids, and to provide it in accessible formats.

My thanks to CILIP Update July 2011 for this news.


Nigel Palmer


About nigepalphi

I am a trustee of Partnerships in Health Information. I was librarian of the Health Education Council in London from 1969 to 1972, then librarian of St Mary's Hospital Medical School from 1972 to 2002.
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