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Guidelines on use of WHO information resources in the Internet

Federal Agency for Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation
Federal Public Health Research Institute
WHO Documentation Centre

Tatyana V. Kaigorodova, Vladimir V. Antoniuk, Pavel A. Mikheev, Sergey V. Bereznitsky
Edited by Anna V. Korotkova

The Guidelines are developed under the Agreement on Cooperation between WHO Regional Office for Europe (WHO EURO) and WHO Documentation Center under the Federal Public Health Institute, Federal Agency for Health and Social Development, Ministry of Health and Social Development, Russian Federation.

The Guidelines are targeted at the Russian speaking medical and healthcare specialists as well as other users with the objective to facilitate search for information and promote use of WHO information available on-line at the WHO website and WHO EURO website.

The Russian information situation is distinguished by a geographical remoteness of communities and their health care units from the biggest research and information centers in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, etc. Such centers have stored comprehensive medical libraries where WHO documents and publications are available.

Internet has bridged this distance gap putting information closer to the user, thus significantly improving universal access to information around the clock. Therefore, development of electronic libraries, i.e. on-line access to catalogues and full texts of documents and publications in the Internet, has recently become a priority in the development of information resources and technologies. This priority area ensures universal direct access to information for all.

International nature of WHO determines its information and publication activities. Over more than 50 years of experience WHO has stored mass data on the analysis of health policy, organization, management and economics. The database is regularly updated. WHO information is a generalized world experience in addressing priorities in all areas of healthcare. WHO collaborates with leading scientific institutes and famous researchers - WHO experts.

WHO documents and publications cover all health-related issues from policy papers and health development analyses to practical guidelines for doctors and nursing personnel. WHO information is a valuable resource for both decision makers and medical staff. WHO puts a special focus on informing public at large and mass media on different health topics.

Development of WHO Internet website became a milestone in dissemination of WHO information. WHO has been actively posting on-line more and more full text documents and publications at its web pages. Free access to WHO information empowers any user to use WHO health-related documents and publications on-line globally regardless of economical and social status.

WHO has six official languages, i.e. English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Arabian and French . But the most of WHO materials is created in English. Perusing the objective to further improve access to WHO information, WHO has been increasing translation of its documents and publications into WHO official languages. 115 Session of the WHO Executive Body in January 2005 addressed the issue of multilingualism . Following this session the WHO main page was translated into all six official languages. Furthermore, a number of WHO main documents and publications has been recently translated into the WHO official languages including Russian, and are available on-line. Translation of documents and publications considerably increases access to WHO information. But it should be mentioned that WHO web site was historically created in English; so up to present days, WHO sites of deep levels exist only in English. That produces essential difficulties for customers who know English not so good.

Studies conducted in the Russian Federation have shown that WHO information is of high research and practical value. However, the studies have also identified low user awareness of multiple WHO resources and ways to retrieve such information. Many health care specialists are not skilled enough to work with international websites, which constitutes another barrier. Studies conducted by WHO have come to a similar conclusion: "The majority of WHO documents are not available to the target audience because either people do not know that such information exists or this information is not available to them" .

To make information maximum available to the user, WHO has developed a network of Documentation Centers, one in each country of the WHO European region. WHO Documentation Centers collect, catalogue, store and disseminate WHO. One of the WHO DC objectives is promotion and dissemination of WHO information products to the target audiences including its presentation in the national language and increased use of electronic information.

The Russian WHO DC supported by WHO EURO has developed these Guidelines to present a full spectrum of WHO Internet-based resources and to offer knowledge and develop skills of the Russian users to quickly and efficiently search information.

The Guidelines consist of two parts. The first part presents the WHO website. The second part presents the website of the WHO Regional Office for Europe. A separate chapter of the first part is devoted to each section of the website menu: "Home", "About WHO", "Countries", "Health topics", "Publications", "Research tools", WHO sites". The 8th chapter is "Search". Given the space limits of the Guidelines it was impossible to cover all WHO web resources. Therefore, the authors decided to select most representative resources and provide their readers with standard ways to search information. The 1th Chapter shows, in particular, how to get WHO official documents of the World Health Assembly and the WHO Executive Body. The 2d Chapter presents the WHO copyright. The 3d Chapter shows search of country information exemplified by the Russian Federation, in particular, information on health legislation. The 4th Chapter covers two health topics: a clinical topic exemplified by "Asthma" and an organizational one exemplified by "Health policy" as well as gives an overview of possible ways to maximum access clinical and organizational resources. The 5th Chapter is devoted to WHO main periodicals and work with "Book shop" section. The 6th Chapter describes the WHO library database - WHOLIS, WHO statistical information system - WHOSIS and WHO Family of international classifications. The 7th Chapter shows a number of websites with different design and searches. The 8th Chapter of the first part outlines different methods to search information throughout WHO website.

The Second part is devoted to the WHO EURO website. It has a similar structure with each chapter covering main sections of the rout menu of the website: "Country information", "Health topics", "Media centre", "Data and publications", "Programmes and Projects". This part shows specific characteristics of the WHO EURO website and its major resources: European Health for All database, Evidence on health needs and interventions, European Observatory on Health systems and policies, Countrywide integrated noncommunicable diseases intervention (CINDI) etc.

The Guidelines use a step-by-step approach to unfold a web resource explaining this process in all detail starting from the main website page and up to its most deep lying layers, to present different ways to search information as well as to get health related documents on-line.

Information technologies are continuously evolving. Likewise, WHO website will be constantly improved and upgraded both in terms of its design and content. Our objective is to train users in main principles to search info so that they won't feel disoriented when found themselves at a particular webpage especially in case of an automatic shift from Russian to English language page. The Guidelines contain multiple examples emphasizing that a skilled user can retrieved full text documents and publications in Russian even from the English language page.

It is the hope of the authors that this product will help its readers explore valuable resources of WHO and increase use to WHO information in their everyday work.

Readers are encouraged to provide comments and feedback to the authors of the Guidelines.